THE SOWER A Biblical View of Truth
Characteristics of Truth
The Sower is the bimonthly magazine of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International
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Beyond Romans 10:9-10
Jan/Feb 2008 | STFonline.org
Letter from the President
John W. Schoenheit “tolerance” and “multiculturalism,” but the reality is that Christianity and truth are under attack all over the globe. On a spiritual level, the preaching of “tolerance” is a ploy to get ungodly beliefs and practices ingrained in the culture, and is certainly not designed to give Christianity a fair shake.
elcome to the first issue of The Sower for 2008. This New Year is under way, and we trust that God is already blessing you mightily. Our theme in 2008 is “Truth Matters.” This is a double entendre, using “Matters” as both a noun and a verb. This year we will be focusing on matters of the truth, because truth matters, i.e., it is relevant and important. Each issue of The Sower will focus on a different biblical truth, with this issue being about the concept of truth itself. The majority of the Christians I know, myself included, do not like conflict. In fact, we sometimes let ourselves be tromped on, or do not stand up for ourselves, just to avoid an argument. Unfortunately, some Christians are so distressed by conflict that they act as if peaceful feelings between themselves and others is more important than truth. Living in peace with one another is certainly valuable, but we dare not sacrifice truth just because someone will be upset with us if we stand up for what we believe. The existence of the Devil guarantees that there will always be conflict surrounding truth. He stands against truth, and so do those who follow his ways, as Jesus made very clear. John 8:44 (ESV)1 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Because of the Devil, and the beliefs and actions of those who knowingly or unknowingly follow him, those of us who desire to stand for the Lord and live godly lives will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Society can say all it wants to about
In The Law of the Covenant,2 James Jordan made a powerful statement a number of years ago: “The universe is not a democracy, but a Kingdom. If Christians do not impose God’s laws upon non-Christians, then nonChristians will impose man’s laws upon Christians.” We can see the effects of non-Christian laws all over the world, and Christian freedom of expression is being more and more tightly controlled and curtailed. To some extent, this is being done without resistance from Christians, who get confused and bamboozled by talk about tolerance, “being fair,” and not imposing Christian beliefs on non-Christians. My point is this: If we Christians allow it, the spiritual forces of darkness will put Christianity so far into a corner that free expression of Christian beliefs will be a thing of the past. Of course, we cannot “impose” our beliefs upon anyone, so Scripture exhorts us to persuade people (Acts 18:4, 28:23; 2 Cor. 5:11) by speaking and living the Truth, like Jesus did. Want an interesting project? Read the teachings of Jesus and categorize them. Even though he knew it would cause division and upset some people, Jesus aggressively promoted truth. On occasion, he went so far as to specifically point out the error of the traditional teachings (“You have heard that it was said…But I tell you…” Matt. 5:21 and 22). He taught with authority, and not like the teachers of the day who would not take a stand on what a passage of Scripture really meant (Matt. 7:29). Jesus taught his disciples to go speak to the world with the same fervor he had when he taught. Remember the teaching that God knows the number of hairs on our heads? We often use that verse to prove how much God loves us, but when did Jesus teach it? When he was telling his disciples they would be persecuted and even killed for speaking the truth (Matt. 10:24-30). It is in times of conflict that we need to remember that God is with us. My brothers and sisters, we believe that knowing the truth makes one free, and that therefore we can bless people mightily if we promote truth. We must do so like Christ did, firmly and in love. We hope to hit that balance this year, both in The Sower and in our lives. Truth Matters. Spread the Word!
Notes: 1. Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. 2. James Jordan, The Law of the Covenant (Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX, 1984).
2 Letter from the President
Credits Publisher Spirit & Truth Fellowship International
6 New Audio Teachings
7 Men’s Camp Report 11 Frequently Asked Question
Volume 10 | Issue 1 | January/February 2008
22 Figure of Speech 23 Calendar Corner
Production Editor John A. Lynn
Graphic Design & Layout Ryan Maher
18 BiblicalUnitarian.com 20 SE Region & PW Conference
Executive Editor John W. Schoenheit
General & Style Editor Bob Maffit
13 Teaching of the Month
26 Ministry Feedback
Truth Matters: A Biblical view of Truth
The Saints Coming Together
Characteristics of Truth
by Dan Gallagher
by Mike Patten
by John W. Schoenheit
Although it is popular today to think that there are many truths, this belief is contrary to the very nature of truth.
The Saints of Michiana Christian Fellowship come together in a common vision.
If we Christians know the characteristics of truth we will be more able to both understand our own faith and communicate it to others.
Fuel For the Fire
Mark & Laurie Allen
Beyond Romans 10:9-10
Free Indeed Videos now online
by Mark & Laurie Allen
by Joshua Albus
Mark & Laurie explain why they are partners with Spirit & Truth.
The story of how God worked in one workman to see what was beyond Romans 10:9-10.
Thank you to Raymond (Kim) L. of Tucson, AZ for all your hard work.
Staff Writers John W. Schoenheit John A. Lynn Dan Gallagher Jeffrey W. Blackburn Matthew Johnson Ryan Maher Production Coordinators Jeffrey Blackburn Matthew Johnson
Research Websites TruthOrTradition.com Read hundreds of articles pertaining to many biblical issues. BiblicalUnitarian.com Explore an entire website dedicated to the truth of One God & One Lord.
Home Office 2144 East 52nd Street Indianapolis, IN 46205 888.255.6189 or 317.255.6189 M-F 8:30 to 5 (EST) Fax: 317.255.6249 STF@STFonline.org www.STFonline.org You may view the electronic version of this magazine at www.STFonline.org/sower All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. References taken from other translations or versions will be noted, e.g., King James Version=(KJV). In verses or quotations from other authors, the author has emphasized words by placing them in bold print. Words inside [brackets] have been added by the author.
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
TruthMatters The Biblical View of Truth by Dan Gallagher
“God, being God, will cause His Word to accomplish its intended purpose for those who hear it and believe it.”
he Bible is a book of literature, and thus it contains many types of writing. To understand it we must be aware that it includes history, i.e., literal narratives of actual events. It is also filled with figures of speech that are used precisely by the Author, including allegories, vivid metaphors, and idioms that make the text come alive. We also find prophetic admonitions and predictions, poetry with artistic language, and letters (epistles). Scripture employs a full spectrum of literary devices, and we must understand them in order to ascertain the meaning intended by the Author. It is also vital that the reader know the context in which the words are framed, and that includes a clear understanding of “to whom” the material is written, and the culture in which it is presented.1 Despite the fact that Scripture was originally written in languages other than our own (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic), most of what it says is clear and easy to understand. If the Word of God is what it claims to be, we must be very careful in our quest to find the Author’s message. Every language is governed by rules of grammar, and even a proper translation of the words themselves does 4
not guarantee that we will fully grasp His intent. Good hermeneutics (Scripture interpretation) demands a scope of the whole Bible and a broad background in its languages, cultures, and history. It is one thing to read Shakespeare or Chaucer and suggest their intentions, but quite another when a person attempts to speak for God Almighty.
Faith. How is it that we can come to such a variety of beliefs, each claiming to have the “truth” about what the Bible says? One of the problems we find in the Church today is the same one Jesus found in Judaism. He warned his followers to beware of those who promoted the traditions of men at the expense of the Word of God.
James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
Mark 7:13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
It is not required of every Bible reader to be an expert in all these arenas, but if one is an interpreter and teacher of doctrine, he is obliged to have a certain level of proficiency. Those of us not adept in biblical languages must take the time to hone our skills in the use of concordances, lexicons, dictionaries, and commentaries. The diversity of doctrines present in Christianity today has resulted in a multiplicity of denominations, and is nothing short of a black eye on our
If the Bible is truly the Word of God, men can “nullify” it only in the sense that the traditions they substitute for it prohibit people from hearing the true Word. God, being God, will cause His Word to accomplish its intended purpose for those who hear it and believe it, and that is why it is so important for those who teach it to do so accurately. Isaiah 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish
To send this article to a friend, visit TruthOrTradition.com/truthmatters what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
because He was the inspiration and source behind the words they wrote.
nature. This is why the Scriptures proclaim that God’s Word is truth.
Men can nullify the Word of God in 2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)4 John 17:17 their own lives by choosing to reject it, or All Scripture is given by Sanctify them by the truth; your to replace it with theories, philosophies, inspiration of God, and is word is truth. or religious practices of their own making. profitable for doctrine, for We must also be aware that there will reproof, for correction, for The Bible says in Psalm 12: always be those who use Scripture for instruction in righteousness, self-serving purposes. Psalm 12:6 The confusion surrounding the God also declares throughout the And the words of the Lord are Bible, its meaning and purpose, often Scriptures that He is the God of truth (Ps. flawless, like silver refined in a leads many to reject it with the mistaken 31:5).5 He is the source of all creation, furnace of clay, purified seven belief that we cannot determine the and all He has made reflects His very times. Author’s intent. Many Christians make nature, which is truth. This is why the the mistake of attempting to prove that Psalmist wrote: They are pure because there is God exists by proving that no falsehood in them. This the Bible is true. We must very statement reveals the understand that the Word of Although it is popular today to think non-contradictory, absolute, God was never intended for exclusive, and correspondent that there are many truths, this the “unbeliever,” the person nature of truth. belief is contrary to the very who rejects God and His Word. Each of us views the nature of truth. world through a set of beliefs, Four Ways To or presuppositions. Communicate Truth “Presuppositions are simply beliefs Psalm 25:4 and 5 The biblical view of truth begins that everyone has that affect how they (4) Show me your ways, O Lord, with the presupposition that God is think, view the world, interpret evidence, teach me your paths; truth. With this as our starting point, and read the Bible.”2 God intended that (5) guide me in your truth and the question then is: how does God people would come to His Word with teach me… communicate truth to mankind? John the presupposition, the belief, that it is, Wesley, one of our faith’s great men, in fact, His Word, and therefore true. The Truth by its very nature is singular, identified four methods God uses to Bible takes this stance, assuming God’s not plural (see the article in this issue by communicate truth to man: His Word, existence to be true and not something John Schoenheit on the “Characteristics reason (wisdom), experience, and to be proven (Gen. 1:1; Exod. 3:14; Rev. of Truth”). Although it is popular today tradition. Because of the singular, non1:8).3 to think that there are many truths, this contradictory nature of truth, these four Scripture simply states that it belief is contrary to the very nature of means of communicating truth provide is truth because God is its Author. truth. Many people mistakenly refer to us a system of checks and balances for We understand that the sixty-six books people’s various perspectives as “truth.” discovering and discerning truth. Of of the Bible were penned by about Individual viewpoints may be aligned course, the “bottom line” is His Word, and 40 people, but God is the one Author with truth, but they can also just as easily the other three cannot contradict that be wrong. As Douglass Grothius states, unwavering standard. “…we all have differing perspectives DID YOU KNOW... Without being able to check our (which can be biased, prejudiced, interpretation of Scripture against the ignorant, arrogant, uninformed and so reality of our experience, how can we The Bible was written: on), but our perspectives only affect know that we, in fact, properly understand - By more than 40 different our sense of what is true; they do not what God is saying? When we read in determine truth. A perspective may God’s Word about the spiritual principle writers be partially true, largely true, or mostly of sowing and reaping, we understand - During a period of more false…”6 The worth of one’s perspective it through our reasoning (wisdom), we than 1,500 years is determined by its alignment with the experience it in the physical or natural - In three languages truth. The closer a person’s perspective realm with the propagation of plants - In many styles: prose, poetry, and opinions are to the truth, the greater and animals, and we recognize its value allegory, proverb, prayer, value they have. because of how Christians through the judicious interpretation, Unlike one’s perspective that may centuries have traditionally benefited epistle, sermon, etc. or may not be true, God is always true. from applying this principle in many Everything about God is true, and ways, including financially. For more info visit everything He does reflects his truthful
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Read / listen to a teaching on “The Balance of Truth and Love: Valuing Right Doctrine and Right Relationships.” Visit TruthOrTradition.com/balance Psalm 138:2 I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
God’s Word is the ultimate standard against which we must test and evaluate everything. Wisdom, experience, and tradition must be aligned with what His Word says. That is because just as there is godly wisdom, there is also ungodly wisdom, or what God calls earthly and devilish, wisdom (James 3:15-KJV). Experiences and traditions can also be untrue. If “science” contradicts God’s Word, then those “scientific” conclusions are wrong, and thus not true science. For example, “science cannot be correct when in saying that mankind evolved from lower life forms, because this contradicts God’s Word, which says that He created a man and a woman named Adam and Eve, and from them have come all mankind.
The Word of God is Truth
Let us first take a look at truth as it is revealed through God’s Word. The Bible is filled with statements declaring God’s Word is true. In addition to His written Word, God has revealed truth to mankind through His living Word, Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Jesus was a perfect reflection of God’s heart and His desires, because he always said and did what his Father asked of him. This is why Jesus could announce that he was God’s living truth, the way to the Father. John 14:6 …“I am the way and the truth
Anyone who wants to know the truth concerning God, His plans, and His purposes can really do so only by knowing His Son, Jesus Christ, and we find Jesus in the Word. Too often Christians have failed to recognize the great need to learn, study, and memorize the Scriptures. They are words of life because they are words of truth.
Wisdom Communicates Truth
When God created mankind, He gave each of us a mind that can think and reason. God had no desire to have a race of programmed robots or to be a micromanager, a puppet master, if you will. No, He chose to make man a thinking, reasoning, rational being with the ability to make genuine choices that affect the outcome of history. From the very start, God gave man the choice to follow His instructions: Genesis 2:16 and 17 (16) And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; (17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Each of the countless Scriptures where God requires man to make a choice points to man’s ability to operate his free will.7 Our ability to make the correct choices is dependent upon our ability to use godly wisdom to discern truth from error, good from evil, right from wrong. Of course,
one of our best tools to do this is follow God’s directions in His Word, but much of mankind, historically, has not had access to Scripture. This is why God surrounded man with the incontrovertible evidence of His creation and imbedded in his heart the ability to know right from wrong, primarily by knowing what he does not like others to do to him. That is why all men are without excuse for not seeking and knowing God. Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. I have taken the liberty to bold the phrase being understood. It is man’s ability to reason that allows him to understand, not in the sense of grasping the entirety of who or what God is, but in the sense of knowing enough about God to glorify Him and give thanks to Him for His goodness and provision. Romans continues: Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. In the above verse I have bolded the words thinking and foolish. Man has the ability to think (reason), and God desires that we use our mental faculties to develop true wisdom. Today God allows man to govern his own affairs, which He expects to be done with justice. By its very nature, justice requires truth, because it requires the wisdom and discernment to separate truth from error. Without truth, mankind can never administer justice. Too often I encounter Christians who acknowledge (Continued on page 9)
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Subscribe online at STFonline.org/podcast New! What is the Church? (Dec 2007) Truth Matters: Part One - Truth Seekers (Sep 2007) A Community of Grace: Five Steps on the Path of Grace (Apr 2007) The Balance of Truth and Love: Valuing Right Doctrine and Right Relationships (Mar 2006) 6
Men’s Camp 2007 Report
Men’s Camp was “over the top.” I saw the Lordship of Jesus Christ bigger and dearer than ever before! The teachings were uplifting and enlightening and at the same time challenging to our comfort zones. The camp fires were priceless! - Vincent Rao, Ft Wayne, IN
Men’s Camp 2007
How wonderful it is when we can reflect back on our time at a ministry event and be able to rehearse numerous stories of God’s powerful presence. The 2007 Men’s Camp was just such an occasion as the men joined together in prayer, praise, worship, teaching, sharings, and ministering to one another. Stories of healing and deliverance continue to pour in as those who attended reflect upon the time they had together. On October 18-21, 60 men from cities all over the United States, plus one father and son from as far away as Japan, gathered at Camp Vision for a time of praise and worship, teaching, and fellowship. Thursday night’s heavy downpour of rain didn’t stop us as we gathered in the gym around a faux fire. Many expressed that they came to be encouraged, refreshed, and renewed with other men of God. Others indicated that they had never been to one of our ministry events and were excited to get to see the camp and meet the Spirit & Truth Fellowship staff up close and personal. Every Day
Every day began with a flag raising ceremony that was followed by teachings, sharings, small groups, workshops, and personal time. Each night we all gathered around the campfire where we got to know one another better, share our common struggles, and hear inspiring stories. As usual, Greg Paules, a.k.a. “Cookie,” provided sumptuous meals, but this time he exceeded all expectations by
even including a fantastic prime rib dinner on Saturday night. As you know, big pieces of delicious red meat always put a smile on a man’s face.
Be sure to check our Calendar of Events for more info on events in your area!
This Year’s Team
Our 2008 event calendar is coming soon!
This year’s team consisted of Jeff Blackburn, Jim Cooper, Dan Gallagher, Matthew Johnson, John Lynn, Bob Maffit, John Schoenheit, and Gary Theisen. Throughout the weekend the event team used numerous football analogies in their teachings and sharings. We learned that we need to serve, to get out of ourselves, to leave it all on the field, and to play through the pain. Our rewards are far greater than any championship ring or large paycheck, and one day we will each stand before the Righteous Judge and be exposed. We may all be average Joes, but just like Elijah, we can do great things with God as we stand for truth. We each have a vital part to play, and God has given us everything we need to carry the ball across the goal line. Our time together ended with a closing ceremony where every participant was given a football imprinted with the message, “Truth Matters, Spread the Word!”
Each man receiv ed a football that said “Truth Matters, spread the Word.”
Next year’s Men’s Conference promises to be an even bigger and better time, because we all agreed to do our best to come back and bring someone new. In the meantime, each of us will do what we can to spread the Word about the Sacred Secret. We all look forward to hearing new “God stories” around the campfire next year.
Our banner “Truth Matters” Spread the Word
“The Men’s C amp was “EXC ELLENT”! A ve - Joshua Ande ry spiritually rson, Fayettevi encouraging lle, AR time.” Small
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
The Fellowship Community
BY MIKE PATTEN
The Saints Coming Together
Michiana Christian Fellowship (MCF) began on a sunny August afternoon in 2005 with a picnic. Members of three separate home fellowship groups came together to consider a single question. The individuals who made up these three fellowships shared a common history and doctrinal beliefs, yet had been estranged from one another for more than fifteen years. The question posed on that summer afternoon was, “Since we have so much in common, can we do something together?” We identified four titanic truths that we all held in common. First and foremost is that the Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures is our basis for faith and practice. Second, the Lord Jesus Christ is our example of a man who obeyed God. The third titanic truth around which we came together is that all Christ’s followers can manifest the gift of holy spirit. The fourth of our founding truths is that we all are members of the Body of Christ, as revealed in the Sacred Secret. What followed was a commitment to come together once a month for a worship service and to continue meeting in the home fellowships during the other weeks of the month. This continued for more than a year as old and new friendships were kindled. As time went on, the desire to be one body grew among most of the folks participating. As a result, on September 23 of this year a covenant was ratified binding us together in a common vision. The MCF covenant reads as follows: We the undersigned do organize ourselves as Michiana Christian Fellowship, a covenant church of Jesus Christ for obedience to and advancement of the Gospel of Christ. We promise to the best of our ability to: Live according to the written Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures. Follow our Lord Jesus Christ as the example of a man who obeyed God. Manifest holy spirit within each of us, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. Serve one another as members of the Body of Christ, in honor preferring one another in love. To that end we commit ourselves one to another in Christian love for the work set before us. Amen This covenant serves to define who we are as partners in this faith community, and what we promise to one another. On 8
October 14 we addressed the issue of how others can become partners, with the right and responsibility to vote upon who will be the leaders of this church. The following criteria were established: (1) faithful participation, (2) involvement over time, (3) agreement with the covenant. Recently, by unanimous vote of the partners, we decided that MCF would become officially affiliated with Spirit & Truth Fellowship International. Our church currently meets in the home of Michael and Mary Patten, but plans to find public accommodations in the near future. Beside the weekly worship service, we have an active women’s group and youth group. We have a meal together at least once a month, and we also have a monthly Disciple Development Day when we discuss different aspects of our Christian walk, for personal and group growth. If you are ever in the South Bend area, we welcome you to visit Michiana Christian Fellowship! DID YOU KNOW?
We have an entire topic on the TruthOrTradition.com website dedicated to supporting our fellowship community. It contains articles and audio teachings. Some of the articles you will find are: • The Balance of Truth and Love: Valuing Right Doctrine and Right Relationships • Reaching out with the Love of God or Christianity: The Come as you are Party • Nine Steps to Facing Adversity in Starting a Fellowship • How To Teach - Some Basics of Publicly Presenting the Scripture • The Leader vs. Providing Leadership • Developmental Stages of a Fellowship • How to start a fellowship • Communication Agreement Visit TruthOrTradition.com/community
Spring Bible Study 2008 This year is dedicated to beginner students DATES: April 16-20, 2008
LOCATION: Camp Vision - Bloomington, IN
Register online at STFonline.org/register
(Continued from page 6)
the truth of Scripture yet neglect their responsibility to discern truth by developing wisdom. Every time we choose to act foolishly, we neglect one of the most important ways that God reveals truth to us, through wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding
Experience Communicates Truth
The third way truth is revealed to man is through experience. I have heard it said that experience is no guarantee for truth, which is correct, but that does not mean that all experience is false. For example, God has chosen to reveal truth to mankind through His creation, which we experience. There are many object lessons about God, His nature, His heart, and His love for mankind that we can learn from observation and study of the world around us. Jesus was a master at demonstrating great spiritual truths by referring to God’s creation, including rocks, sand, rain, plants, yeast, flowers, birds, and much more.8 So we too can perceive and experience truth from the physical world, and thereby learn truths about God’s greatness, power, supreme intelligence, faithfulness, goodness, beauty, love, and provision for us. Unfortunately, much of God’s original creation has been marred, like a beautiful painting splashed with red wine. We can certainly still perceive much of the original, yet it is damaged, as evidenced
by the thorns, thistles, biting insects, earthquakes, weather-related disasters, and, most heinous of all, death. Romans 8:21 and 22 (21) that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (22) We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. The further we investigate and analyze the world around us, the more we discover a system or order. The world is filled with physical constants, values, and laws upon which are based all of Creation. For instance, if the constants governing electromagnetic coupling were altered in the slightest way, molecules could not exist. God has established the laws of physics, light, energy, chemistry, planetary movements, biology, life, mathematics, and much, much more.9 Everything in God’s creation is designed to inspire us and to point us to Him. No one can avoid recognizing the beauty, majesty, complexity, and orderliness of Creation. An atheist may not be able to explain the source of the laws of Creation, but he cannot deny their existence. How unfortunate that man has chosen to serve the Creation instead of the One who created everything.10 Experience is a very valuable tool for evaluating truth, especially in
relationships. If someone tells me they love me but I experience unloving actions toward me, I then know it is not true, at least not to the degree they may claim. It often happens that a person will say one thing and do another, and it is evidence (experience) that aids us in our evaluation of what is truth. Knowing truth through experience is another way of saying you will know a tree by its fruit (Matt. 12:33). It is experience, in addition to the application of wisdom, and evaluation in light of the Scriptures, that helps us discern truth from error.
Tradition Communicates Truth
A fourth way truth can be communicated to us is through tradition. Throughout history, God has set many traditions in place. For example, the very first tradition involving a blood sacrifice can be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve.11 Later, on the eve of the Exodus of the Hebrew nation from Egypt, God began the tradition of an annual Passover meal, a ceremony that pointed the way to the greater truth of Jesus being the Passover Lamb for all mankind.12 God instructed the Israelites to have many traditions involving the Tabernacle and Temple worship. Once He had them remove twelve stones from the Jordan River as a memorial, a tradition, so they would look at them years later and remember the miracle of Him parting the river at flood stage so they could pass. Unfortunately, traditions can also be man made. Members of the Jewish religious community confronted Jesus The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
and his disciples because they were not adhering to hand-washing traditions or customs concerning the Sabbath. Jesus correctly pointed out to them that they were following false traditions, which nullified the Word of God. Mark 7:8 and 9 (8) You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (9) And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! We should take his words as a serious admonition for ourselves. The Christian Church has many traditions, practices, and beliefs that need to be carefully examined in the light of Scripture.13 A sincere examination should begin with a serious study on the doctrine of the Trinity, and also include holy spirit, the manifestations (sometimes miscalled “gifts”) of the spirit, whether God is in control of everything that happens, the state of the dead, heaven, and “hell.” The conclusions of honest research on these critical topics would yield illuminating results for those in the mainstream of Christian thought. There appears to be a renewal of passion in the Church to return to the basics of the faith. We are very thankful for that, and time will tell how far it will go.
Furthermore, the tradition of communion was intended to be much more than a periodic solemn activity at church. Rather, it was a tradition designed to remind us of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus every time we eat or drink. The first century church also had a tradition of meeting in people’s homes several days a week, not in large monumental structures once a week. There they shared in each other’s lives and ate communal meals called “love feasts.”14 Tradition is a powerful tool God uses to communicate truth.
Checks and Balances
Through the years many have recognized the truth that is revealed through all four methods, but have not kept these in the proper balance, placing too much emphasis on one area and neglecting the others. When we place too much focus on reason (wisdom), we tend towards Gnosticism, while too much emphasis on tradition will cause us to become restricted by ceremonialism. Too much importance on experience has led many to seek for signs from God, thus exposing them to deception by the Enemy. God has given us a wonderful system of checks and balances by revealing truth through multiple means. His Word is true, and it is the standard against which we are to measure all reason, experiences, and tradition. It is the touchstone against which we can evaluate everything in our lives. God desires that we both know the truth and live it, demonstrating it in our
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reasoning, our actions (experiencing), and the traditions we promote. Truth Matters, and God has made it clear that He desires that we spread the Word! Notes: 1. For more information, go to Tr u t h O r Tr a d i t i o n . c o m , To p i c : Administrations. 2. David Wright, Answers Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 4, Oct – Dec 2007, p. 90. Published by Answers in Genesis, PO Box 510, Hebron, KY, 4108. For additional information, visit their website at AnswersMagazine.com. 3. Ibid., p. 90. 4. Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 5. See also Psalm 40:10 and 11, 43:3, 86:11. 6. Douglass Grothius, Truth Decay, Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism, (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 60515) p. 10. 7. See Deuteronomy 30:19. 8. See Matthew 7:26, 13:26; Luke 12:24, 13:19. 9. For additional information regarding the revelation of truth through creation, we recommend Answers in Genesis, P. O. Box 510, Hebron, KY 41048, AnswersInGensis.org 10. Romans 1:25 “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…” 11. Genesis 3:21 “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” 12. 1 Corinthians 5:7b “…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 13. For additional information visit our website, TruthOrTradition.com 14. Jude 1:12 refers to love feasts and there are numerous records of churches that met in the home (see Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; 1 Tim 5:13; Philem. 1:2;)
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
Is Too Much Knowledge a Bad Thing?
Do you have a biblical question that you would like to see get answered in The Sower or on our websites? Send it by email to STF@STFonline.org or mail to Spirit & Truth Fellowship International 2144 E. 52nd street, Indianapolis, IN 46205
FAQ: I have been a Christian for many years, and have frequently shared the Word I know with other Christians. When I sensed that they were not basing their beliefs on the written Word of God, I called them back to it as the only standard for faith and practice. Far more often than I ever would have expected, they have thrown at me the phrase in 1 Corinthians 8:1: “knowledge puffs up,” as if I am somehow conceited because I have too much knowledge of the Word. What does that phrase mean?
irst of all, many verses of Scripture speak of the great value of knowledge, and encourage us to go to great lengths to obtain it, so how could too much knowledge of the truth be a bad thing? Furthermore, well-known men and women of God through the ages have had great knowledge, and that was always commendable. Also, knowledge and humility are not mutually exclusive. Moses, for example, was both very wise and very meek (Num. 12:3). The key to understanding the phrase, “knowledge puffs up,” is the context. When we study the context of 1 Corinthians 8:1,
we will clearly see that Paul is in no way making a blanket statement that too much biblical knowledge makes one conceited. He is specifically addressing the Corinthian Christians who were wrongly relating to the knowledge they had, and by so doing badly hurting other believers in the church there. It is true that there are some things we will not know until the Lord appears, but they need not be things in God’s Word. If the Word really does contain "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3), then surely God gave it to us to understand—all of it. The common misconception that “God is mysterious and unknowable” is not what He tells us in His Word. In fact, He repeatedly encourages us to know Him, that is, to have knowledge about Him and how He wants to intimately relate to us. It is God Himself who says that we can know everything that He has revealed to us in His Word (Deut. 29:29)...
To read the rest of this Frequently Asked Question, visit TruthOrTradition.com/knowledge TruthOrTradition.com / Over 900 articles and growing
Did you know we have 81 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted on TruthOrTradition.com? • Is Allah the God of the Bible? (FAQ Topic) • How do the Ten Commandments apply today to Christians and the New Testament? (FAQ Topic) • Why the Flood & who are the Nephilim from Genesis 6? (FAQ 2 Topic) • What Does the Bible say About Being Slain in the Spirit? (FAQ 2 Topic) • How have the Gnostics (Gnosticism) influenced Christianity? (FAQ 3 Topic) • What does the Bible Say about Christians and nude beaches / naturist gatherings? (FAQ 3 Topic)
See the FAQ, FAQ 2, and FAQ 3 topics at TruthOrTradition.com
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
“...I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3)
here is a saying, “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” That is all well and good if you are looking for a duck. But what if you are searching for truth? What does truth look like? Truth has certain characteristics that distinguish it, and set it apart from theories, ideas, opinions, faith, and of course, untruth and lies. Christianity asserts certain specific truths, starting with the existence of God, the Father of Jesus Christ. If we Christians know the characteristics of truth we will be more able to both understand our own faith and communicate it to others. Also, we will be more able to understand the attacks on the Christian faith, and not only defend it, but hopefully win over our adversaries. After all, since the universe is based on truth, a faith based on truth makes sense to the mind and fulfills the soul. As we of Spirit & Truth Fellowship have studied and examined the subject 12
of Truth, we have come to recognize six characteristics that it has.1 These six characteristics of truth are: absolute, correspondent, coherent, universal, exclusive, and objective. These characteristics are not totally separate. In fact, they dovetail into each other and overlap each other. Nevertheless, they define truth in distinctive ways that help us understand it and recognize it.
When something is absolute, it means that it is not dependent upon anything else. We can better understand absolute if we understand its opposite, “relative.” Something that is relative has a necessary dependence on something else. For example, we tend to think of the passage of time as absolute, that one minute is the same for everyone everywhere. However, scientists can now show that time is relative, and that time for an object
by John W. Schoenheit
depends on the speed of that object. For any given object, time slows down as it approaches the speed of light. Thus time is relative, it is dependant on something else. However, truth is not relative; it is not dependant on anything else. An example of a truth is that God exists. He exists everywhere for everyone. He is not a different God at differing speeds, or with or without a gravitational field, inside or outside of a church, or for different people. He is the same for everyone, everywhere, for all time. At this point we should note that not all truth is immediately evident to everyone. The fact that many people do not recognize the existence of God does not mean His existence is not a truth, it just means that they have failed to perceive the truth. Truth is absolute, not relative, so truth does not depend on people recognizing it for it to exist and be true. God does not have to be known or believed to be God.
To send this article to a friend, visit TruthOrTradition.com/characteristics
Truth is absolute, so it corresponds to reality, the way things really are. Because truth exists, “reality” is what corresponds to truth. We understand this when it comes to true and false statements. A false statement is false because it does not correspond to reality. Police use the principle of correspondence to determine whether a person is lying. Does what someone say line up with, or correspond to, reality? Christians must understand that people’s beliefs and perspectives, although real to them, may not be true. Douglass Grothius correctly observed that, “…we all have differing perspectives (which can be biased, prejudiced, ignorant, arrogant, uninformed and so on), but our perspectives only affect our sense of what is true; they do not determine truth. A perspective may be partially true, largely true, or mostly false…”2 We live in a world that elevates man’s ideas, beliefs, and perspectives. In fact, some people consider it rude and uneducated to assert that another’s person’s beliefs are wrong. They would be correct in their assertion if there were no such thing as truth, because then everyone could be correct no matter how widely their beliefs differed. However, there is truth, and because of that, people cannot hold inherently contradictory views of something (i.e., there is a God and there is not a God) and both be correct. In fact, because there is truth, the value of any given perspective depends on how accurately it corresponds to reality, to truth. What makes lies and untruth dangerous is that they lead us from the truth. We see this in the world around us all the time. A lie or untruth about what is good to eat, or is a good medicine to take, can leave a person sick or dead. Sadly, the consequences of believing a lie about God and Jesus (such as they do not exist, or Jesus is not important for salvation) will leave one just as dead, but the death will be everlasting. Thus untruth and lies about God and Jesus are dangerous indeed!
God asks Christians to get to the point “...that there may be no division among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” - 1 Cor. 1:10b Coherence
Coherence is internal cohesion and consistency. Truth cannot contradict itself internally or externally. In the debates between science and religion we occasionally here someone say, “Well, that may be true in religion, but it is not true in science.” Truth is truth in every category pertaining to it. It is not true to science that God does not
exist, but true to religion that He does. Similarly, evolution is not true in science while creation is true in religion. When it comes to a single subject, there must be one absolute, internally consistent truth, and that truth will then correspond to the reality of the situation. In some cases we can observe something and have differing opinions about it, but in the end we will find that there was only one truth. It is important to understand that truth is internally consistent when it comes to obeying God, and it is one reason that logic plays such an important role in faith. If God could be internally inconsistent, then we could not use logic as a tool to understand God or our faith. Logic is what allows us to extrapolate from the rules and regulations in the Bible to practical use in our world today.3 Understandably, the concept of internal consistency can cause Christians to be uncomfortable, because there are so many denominations on the earth today, each with somewhat differing beliefs. No matter how we
TEACHING OF THE MONTH
What is the Church? (December 2007) Also available on STFonline.org/podcast
Order online at STFonline.org/store or call us toll free at 888.255.6189 or 317.255.6189 M-F 8:30 to 5 (EST) Ask for the December 2007 audio teaching of the month by Dan Gallagher and John Schoenheit The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
“The universal nature of truth should drive each one of us to seek it until we are confident we have found it.” try to explain it away to minimize our differences, there is not a different truth for different Christians. God asks Christians to get to the point “…that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Cor. 1:10b). The way to get there is not by compromising what we believe, but by much prayer along with careful, diligent study of the revelation that God has given us about Himself: His Word.
Truth is universal in that it applies equally to everything, or every person, within a specific set of parameters. Another way to think of the universal characteristic of truth is that it is not provincial, parochial, constrained, or petty. Truth is ecumenical, broad, sweeping, and ubiquitous. Truth is not trendy or superficial. Because truth is universal, no one can escape it. For instance, in today’s world, death is a truth for all mankind, and there is a coming Judgment that no one will escape. No one that lives can avoid it or escape it, especially by simply not believing that it applies to them. No one can change the truth about death and the Judgment by deciding not to think about it. The danger in not recognizing that truth is universal is that some people act as if it does not apply to them simply because they do not believe it. That will work until it actually comes upon them, at which time the scripture will be fulfilled that says, “…there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12). The universal nature of truth should drive each one of us to seek it until we are confident we have found it. Being content or comfortable with where we are and what we believe is not good enough. Many people say they are “content with what they believe,” but that does not make them right, and it can be a dangerous place to be if what they are content with turns out to be an untruth. God expects us to seek Him, and He promises that if we seek we will find. Interestingly, sometimes finding God actually makes us uncomfortable, because we may find that God has more for us to do than we are comfortable doing, or we may find that the evil in the world marshals against us in a way that makes us uncomfortable. That is when the truth of the next life becomes a true comfort.
The Bible: You Can Believe It! This book is a defense of the accuracy and integrity of the Bible. It examines and refutes many of the most common criticisms that have been raised against the Bible. Visit TruthOrTradition.com/bible
While the universal aspect of truth describes its broad nature, the exclusive aspect of truth describes its narrow and specific character. Truth always “draws a line in the sand” in the sense that anything contrary to it is false, or error. Truth excludes anything that is contrary to it. It is the exclusive nature of truth that causes people to think of those who embrace it as “narrow-minded.” Since God created both the physical world and the spiritual world, it makes sense that they would both reflect the exclusive nature of truth, and they do. The exclusive nature of truth is built into the fabric of the material world in which we live. Romans 1:20 points out that God’s creation points to the Creator, and the “narrow-mindedness” we see in nature would naturally be a reflection of the exclusive nature of truth. Examples of the exclusive nature of truth, which show up as inherent narrow-mindedness in Creation, are all around us. It may seem “narrowminded” to use only gasoline (or substances with similar combustible properties) in our gas tanks, but when we pour our leftover soda pop into the gas tank, the car stops. Thus, drivers are all very “narrow-minded” about what they put in the gas tank. In fact, we are very “narrow-minded” about almost everything in our lives. We do not burn the kid’s old plastic toys in our fireplace, even though they will burn, and we certainly do not burn our used glass jars and tin cans, because they are so “narrow-minded” they will not catch on fire. We are very “narrow-minded” about what we eat, and pass up all sorts of free things (like grass, gravel, and our old clothes) and pay lots of money for “food.” If we are boating on the ocean, we are so “narrow-minded” that we will allow ourselves to get thirsty rather than drink the ocean water all around us. Could it be that the God who created inherent exclusiveness, or inherent “narrow-mindedness” into His physical creation would then not have such exclusiveness in His spiritual creation? As Christians, it should occur to us that God is no less “narrow-minded” about spiritual things and His spiritual creation than He is about His physical creation. God wove it into the nature of truth to be exclusive, and there is no way around that. It should not upset us when non-Christians call us “narrow-minded” because we are, and that is the nature of truth. The fact is that many people are wrong when it comes to what they believe about God, and our not being willing to confront that, (Continued on page 16)
Partner Profile Mark & Laurie Allen
ears ago, in our infancy as Christians, we were dirt-poor, living on food stamps and welfare. As we learned more biblical truth about giving, we decided it was the wise thing to do. At 32 years old, I (Mark) was unemployed, and decided to take a job as a paperman (as opposed to a paperboy). Doing so was going to net me $100 a month less than I was getting from welfare. That seemed stupid, but it was time to put God to the test. I had also recently learned that if you don’t work, neither should you eat, so I took the job. Our lives changed from that moment. As we gave, we saw phenomenal things occur. God always supplied our needs, and He was never late. Money would appear in our mailbox, seemingly out of nowhere. Cars we thought were dying would keep on ticking for another 100,000 miles. No doubt you have your own stories. When you give in any way you can, God wants to bless you back. You reap what you sow, either bountifully or sparingly. If you have nothing material to give, you can give of yourself, your time and prayers. God will always be there to bless you. When we started giving, God opened up a whole new realm of thinking for us, and we saw things in a different light. Being focused on ourselves had left us stuck in our self-imposed prison of poverty, but focusing on giving to others allowed us to see beyond ourselves. Jesus didn’t have a wallet to open, yet he was the greatest giver who ever lived. Giving has many aspects and possibilities, but it begins with our attitude. Giving is a
part of being that living sacrifice of Romans 12:1. If Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice his blood for us, we ought to be cheerful about the privilege to give, and thank God we can give to a ministry that stands for the truth of God’s Word. We give to Spirit & Truth because this is a ministry with commitment. Its leaders are committed to the Lord and to his command to make disciples (Matt. 28:19). This ministry is committed to the integrity of God’s Word, because they believe that truth matters. They are committed to being examples of what it is to be conformed to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29). They are committed to not only seeking truth from the Word of God, but also living it. That is why we are in partnership with Spirit & Truth Fellowship International, not only financially, which is a definite need for any ministry, but also in vision and heart.
When you give in any way you can, God wants to bless you back. You reap what you sow, either bountifully or sparingly. We enjoy being involved in all the things this ministry offers, from camps and conferences to the teaching of the month to The Sower magazine to the Bible Land Tour. Our ministry is able to do these things because of the giving of generous “cheerful hearts” whose lives have been touched, and we are thankful and blessed to be a part of it all. Bless you, Mark and Laurie Allen Clarksville, IN
PA R T N E R
with Spirit & Truth Fellowship International To become a partner, go to
STFonline.org/partnership or use the enclosed partnership form or call 1.888.255.6189 M-F 8:30-5 (EST)
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
(Continued from page 14)
or hoping to “include everyone” will not change the nature of truth. It will only help keep people from coming to terms with the way reality, and God, really are.
The word “objective” means in the realm of experience but independent of a person’s thoughts or perceptions. Truth is not dependant of any person’s desires, beliefs, or emotions. Truth is not subject to man’s control, determination, or veto. No one gets to decide what truth is; it is not subjective, subject to man. It is objective, outside of man. It must be revealed to man, because man cannot make it or change it. There are people who think in terms of “their own truth,” but thinking that way is contrary to the nature of truth. If everyone could have his or her own truth, then truth would not be true, but would be only a personal experience or belief. When it comes to God, the objective nature of God seems obvious. We do not make God, nor can we change Him. Nor does it modify Him if we do not believe in Him or believe something false about Him. It is our job, as created beings of God, to discover the truth that lies outside us, and discover, and develop a relationship with, our Creator. There are religions that teach that we must discover God “inside us.” Those types of teachings have been around a long time, and their fruit is consistent: each person ends up with a somewhat different view of God. God is not inside us, nor can we find Him by looking inside ourselves. The Bible guides us to read and learn about God in it’s pages, and from there develop a personal relationship with Him.
As we examine the characteristics of truth, that it is absolute, correspondent, coherent, universal, exclusive, and objective, many things about God, the Word of God, the Son of God, and life itself, come into clearer focus. For one thing, we become more acutely aware of the spiritual battle raging around us. A primary weapon of the Adversary is lies and untruth, but a lie cannot be seen for what it is if no one believes in truth. No wonder the Adversary has such an intense campaign going on against the existence of absolute truth. If he can get people to believe that all that matters is “what is true for them,” or “the truth they find inside themselves,” he will succeed in his mission to “steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).” People will meet God at the resurrection and find that “their truth” was just a lie they were comfortable with while on earth. At that time the scripture that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25; said twice for emphasis) will be seen to be “the truth,” but it will be too late for those who did not seek God and get saved. As Christians, we should believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Word of God is the truth (John 17:17), and we should labor hard to understand it, believe it, and teach it to others. At the end of time, the only theory, idea, concept, ideology, or belief that matters will be those that are actually true, that correspond to the reality that God has set in place. We need to honor God, and bless ourselves and others by discovering truth and communicating it to those around us. Notes: 1. There are a number of good books available that examine the concept of 16
CHOOSE LIFE Truth matters. Why? One reason is because for each of us free will creatures known as humans, the quality of our life depends upon the quality of our choices. Certain choices yield beneficial results, while others lead to catastrophe. Even atheists and agnostics acknowledge that reality. We often hear people use the phrase, “black and white,” which, given the clearly stark contrast between black and white, they employ to point out the polar opposites of two things, or two choices. As God set it up, life is replete with such diverse choices. How about the phrase, “night and day”? People use that like they do “black and white,” don’t they? That’s because in certain ways, night is the opposite of day. Ditto for light and dark, east and west, north and south. In the above dichotomies, neither in each pair is inherently better than the other, as it depends upon the situation. If we’re talking brain surgery, we’d best have light, but that doesn’t work for watching a movie, does it? If you’re in New York and must drive to California, you had better go west unless you have a floating car. Without question the most polar opposites in existence are LIFE and DEATH, and when it comes to everlasting life or everlasting death, that distinction is even more amplified. If there is such a thing as truth, then, by definition, there is its opposite—untruth, that is, a lie. The truth is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died to pay the price for your sins. The lie is that there is another way to everlasting life. Romans 10:9 (NIV) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. God has set before you the choice between life and death. Truth matters. How about this for a New Year’s resolution: CHOOSE LIFE. For further study please read our booklet, Becoming a Christian: Why? What? How? at TruthOrTradition.com/salvation
truth. Our bookstore sells The Death of Truth by Dennis McCallum. However, a few other books with helpful information are Truth Decay by Douglass Grothius, Whatever Happened to Truth? by Andreas Kostenberger, and The Truth War by John MacArthur. 2. Douglass Grothius, Truth Decay, p. 108. 3. It is often stated that the Hebrew word “torah” means “law,” but it really means “instruction.” God cannot tell us everything to do in life. But He gives us instructions that we can then apply to the world in which we live today.
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Reaching out to countries all over the world: China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudia Arabia, France, Germany, Poland, Colombia, Philippines, etc.
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Explore an entire website dedicated to the Truth of One God & One Lord.
DEDICATED TO THE TRUTH OF ONE GOD & ONE LORD Verses Commonly Used to Try to Support the Trinity Research an extensive list of verses that are commonly used to try and support the doctrine of the Trinity.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions like: One God & One Lord
The Cornerstone of the Christian Faith (over 700 pages) $29 This book leaves no stone unturned in covering the vital subject of the relationship between God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Order online at STFonline.org/store or see page 3 of the enclosed price list.
• Must One Believe in the Trinity to Be Saved? • But what about John 1:1? • Doesn’t the teaching that Jesus is not God, but the Son of God, demean him?
Read 100 Scriptural Arguments For the Unitarian Faith Written by Samuel Barrett in 1825 and pubished by the American Unitarian Association. Unitarian Christians believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Saviour of men. They believe in the divinity of his mission and in the divinity of his doctrines.
Visit BiblicalUnitarian.com 18
On the Errors of The Trinity A 1 6 -h o u r S e m i nar on 12 C D s , by D o n S n e d e k e r
Table of Contents Disc One
Introduction; Unitarianism Explained
Three Types of Trinitarianism; the word “Persons;” Doctrine and Language Used to Develop it is Not in the Bible
Doctrine of the Trinity a Doctrine of Inference; Belief in the Doctrine Not Necessary for Salvation; Doctrine is Unintelligible; Polytheism
The Doctrine of the Double Nature of Christ
Ad Hoc Argumentation Used to Save the Doctrine from Falling; Early Church Councils and Creeds; Platonism; Entropy
Mystery versus Contradiction; Reason and Revelation; Rules of Biblical Interpretation; Common Sense
Since its components began to be officially codified at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, the “Trinity” has been a topic that has caused great confusion and uncertainty for many truth-seeking Christians.
Continuity of Belief in One God from the Old Testament Into the New; Our Heavenly Father is the Supreme Authority; Jesus’ Person and Mission
Jesus’ Denial of Being God; The Logos
This 16 hour seminar by Don Snedeker is filled with fascinating quotes from many Christians through the centuries who recognized that the Trinity has no biblical basis, and who stood firm against opposition and persecution for not believing it.
Don aptly shows how critical it is for Christians to truly understand who Jesus Christ really is and what is his relationship to God, not only so they can make a rational defense of our faith, but more so they can experience a relationship with God similar to that which Jesus had.
Jesus Didn’t Pre-Exist His Birth; Holy Spirit
Names and Titles of God and Jesus – Jehovah, Elohim; The Title “God” Terminology Applied to God and Christ; To Christ and the Body of Christ; Timeliness Issues; Difficult and/or Misunderstood Verses
Difficult and/or Misunderstood Verses; Concluding Thoughts
Order online at STFonline.org/errors or call us toll free at 1.888.255.6189 (317.255.6189), M-F 9-5 (EST) or fax your order to 317.255.6249. Mail in your order using the order form on page 15 of the enclosed price list.
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Conference Reports - SE Regional & Praise & Worship
Southeast Regional Conference Report “It was inspiring, encouraging, and informative. My least favorite part was leaving.” - Kay Page of Hapeville, GA
ould you like to have a really great weekend? Then be sure to make plans for a Regional Conference near you as a “must do”! Even if you can’t attend the entire event (like I), just come when you can and enjoy a part of it. After all, something is better than nothing, and take it from me, it will be worth every effort. No doubt your spiritual batteries will get recharged. This year’s Asheville Regional Conference was superb. From the teachings (incredible!) to the individual workshops, prayer or praise or ministering session(s), God found a way to bring help, answers, or deliverance to those who attended. One of the highlights for me was the general “state of the ministry” session. I would describe it as a casual Saturday afternoon session of impromptu sharings about the many doors God already is opening to expand the reach of this ministry. For instance, the Home Office has a computer program that displays the last 500 visitors to the TruthOrTradition.com website. Who knew? Jeff Blackburn shared that he woke up very early one morning and saw every continent lit up with folks online accessing teachings. That particular morning someone in China was reading “Tithing vs. Giving,” someone in Australia was viewing “What is Speaking in Tongues?” someone in France was learning “What Happens
When You Die?” and someone in Iran was researching the Trinity. Talk about goose bumps. Did you know that the Home Office also sponsors a daily Google/search engine campaign so that when someone types in certain key words, like for instance, “What is the Trinity?” the TruthOrTradition.com and/or BiblicalUnitarian.com website link will show up at the top of the list? Right now Spirit & Truth Fellowship has only a small daily budget fund, and each time one of our websites is accessed, Google deducts a small click fee. How exciting to know that we can make a difference by giving specifically to expand this fund so that even more people can be reached. Jeff also shared that when Hurricane Katrina hit, he reached out to get more donors to sponsor a larger campaign to get the truth out about “Does God cause hurricanes?” Because of these extra donations, several thousand people searching for Internet answers were able to learn that God was not responsible for that tragedy. How great is that? John Schoenheit shared on how the TruthOrTradition.com website now has articles translated into French, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Cebuano, Urdu, and Italian. The best part is that this has not cost us anything, because God has brought to this ministry people who on their own wanted to translate the teachings into their own languages. The only rules in place are that the ministry owns these teachings and that the translators are to provide them to their own people at no charge. Dan Gallagher shared on how far Camp Vision has come, and the many miracles God has brought to continue to get it renovated. For instance, an $80,000.00 paving job for $30,000.00; a construction workshop class nearby has offered to donate their labor to completely renovate Cabin 3; God bringing caretakers (Ron and Jane Bickel) to volunteer their time to maintain and oversee the grounds, and on and on!
“My favorite part was the dances and the opportunities to participate in worship through dancing, as well as singing and prayer.” - Marguerite Cooke of Charlotte, NC
Yes, the Conference teachings were fantastic, but for me it was learning about the exciting events happening both here and overseas to bring new people to the accuracy of God’s Word that touched my heart the most and inspired me to give more. Of course, everyone who attended was touched by different aspects. Someone shared on their deliverance from depression, another on their healing from insomnia, and another on a particular understanding of something in the Word that had troubled them for years.
What will touch you? Come and spend a day or two or three and see what God does to fill your heart with joy, peace, answers or whatever you are seeking. I know it will be worth the effort. I hope you can make it to a Regional Conference near you! Mary (and Tom) Nagle Atlanta, GA
Praise & Worship Conference Report Hi everyone, my name is Mina Hacker and I just returned from the Expressions of Praise and Worship Workshop conference at Camp Vision in Bloomington, Indiana. What a weekend that was! Praise and Worship is not my usual thing to go to a seminar on. But I decided to go because I wanted to take two Korean ladies, Lucy Kim and Harrie Bang to show Camp Vision and also to have them meet John Schoenheit. I have been teaching them the Bible in the Korean language since February of this year and every time I teach, they reply that I teach better than ministers. So I have been saying to them if they like what I teach, they should meet my teacher, John Schoenheit. That was the biggest reason why I took them there. I thought this was one of those praise and worship, singing and dancing conferences, like you see on the television. Boy, I was wrong! I never thought that there was so much to learn, and so much fun at the same time! All the teachings, the fellowship and food were absolutely fabulous! Above all we felt so much of God’s love and tenderness in the camp and our hearts were deeply touched!
were toward those teachings on our way back home! They were asking me to put on the tapes all the way home! I am beyond blessed to see their lives changed! Praise God, and praise the Lord Jesus! Thank you for everyone that helped to make this seminar available! Lucy is already asking about another conference to go to during her winter vacation time. And, she would like to see another Praise and Worship Workshop again next year. Thanks again and see you all soon! With much Love, Mina
On Saturday night, after the evening teaching, John made it available for anyone who wanted to speaking in tongues for first time. Well, Harrie found out she already knew how to speak in tongues and she was very happy because John confirmed that what she spoke was speaking in tongues. That night, before we went to bed, Harrie wanted to try interpretation of tongues for the first time! She did it beautifully! [For more information on speaking in tongues, visit TruthOrTradition.com/tongues.] It takes 14 hours to drive to Indianapolis from where we live in Albany, New York. So, I did the homework for what to do with my friends while on the long journey. I took a bunch of John’s teaching tapes and CDs. I politely suggested to them if they were interested to listen to them. Some how I felt they were somewhat skeptical about this. So, I didn’t push. Well, you would not believe how different their attitudes
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Figures of Speech Keys to Effective Communication
- Hyperbaton -
he ability to communicate by words is one thing that sets apart mankind from all other creatures. God is the Author of language, and no one has ever used language as precisely as God does in the Bible, including His use of figures of speech. When most people say, “a figure of speech,” they are speaking in general terms of something that is not true to fact. However, genuine figures of speech are legitimate grammatical and lexical forms that add emphasis and feeling to what we say and write. Recognizing and properly interpreting the figures of speech in the Bible has many advantages. We can understand the true meaning of Scripture and be able to more fully enjoy the richness of the Word of God. It is important that we become at least somewhat familiar with the figures of speech in Scripture, of which there are more than 200 varieties.1 The figure we are going to cover in this issue of The Sower is Hyperbaton. Every language has rules that govern how the elements of a sentence are put together for proper understanding, and those rules are referred to as syntax. The syntax of languages differs. For example, in English we place the adjective before the noun it modifies (“red barn”) while in Greek the adjective usually comes after the noun. The figure of speech Hyperbaton occurs when, to attract attention and for emphasis, an element of the sentence is moved out of the order of the normal syntax. We English readers do not usually see the Hyperbaton because moving something out of its normal word order can make the Bible hard to read or hard to understand. Therefore, most English versions of the Bible “fix” the Hyperbatons that occur in the Hebrew and Greek text, so the English reader never sees them. Luke 16:11 (NASB)2 “If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?
The Greek reads more powerfully, bringing the object, “true” to the front of the second phrase. “If, then, you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, the true riches—who will entrust them to you? The phrase is made even more powerful by omitting the word “riches,” which is the figure of speech Ellipsis, which places the emphasis on what is present in the sentence and de-emphasizes what is missing. Thus, a still more accurate reading would be: “If, then, you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, the true—who will entrust them to you?” As Christians, we should greatly desire to be entrusted with the true riches, so we should be diligent in handling money and material goods here on earth in a righteous manner. Romans 12:19 (KJV) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. In the Greek text of this verse, the word “yourselves” has been pulled in front of the word “avenge.” Thus, the Greek text would be literally translated: “Not yourselves avenging….” Placing the emphasis on “yourselves” lets us know definitively that we are not to take revenge, and that sentiment is further reinforced by the fact that the verb, “give place,” is in the imperative mood; it is a command. We can better get the sense by using some license with regard to capitalization and punctuation: “Stop avenging YOURSELVES, but give place!! to God’s wrath, for I will repay, says the Lord.” Isaiah 34:4a (NASB) And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll… This verse is referring to unclear events that will occur during the Day of the Lord, which we sometimes refer to as the Great Tribulation. By Hyperbaton, God emphasizes what will happen, because the Hebrew text, if translated more literally, would read, “And they will be rolled up like a scroll—the heavens.” Romans 1:3 and 4 (KJV) (3) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
For many more Figures of Speech visit TruthOrTradition.com/figures
Freedom Behind Bars [This is the third in a series of columns written by Grady, an inmate at an Indiana correctional institution, and a member of John Lynn’s weekly prison fellowship until he was recently moved to another facility.] There is not a better place to be than in the center of God’s will. God can, and will, reveal His will for each of us in one of three ways: by way of the written Word, by revelation via holy spirit, or by the spirit working in the life of another believer who speaks to us. Then the choice is ours: will we exercise our free will to choose to obey, or not? The American Heritage Dictionary1 defines “free will” as: “the ability or discretion to choose; the power to make choices that are unconstrained, as by fate.” Imagine Jesus reading the Word that we now refer to as the Old Testament, where he saw who he was, his mission, his suffering, and his glory. As “the Last Adam,” he had free will, and could have said: “No way! I’m not going through all that for people I don’t even know.” But he didn’t; he chose to stay in the center of God’s will for his life. Yes, that required him to suffer grievous torture
unto death, but God raised him from the dead and highly exalted him to the glorious position of Lord, Head of the Church, and, one day, King of the world. In the next several columns, I want to share my testimony with you. No doubt, like you, there have been times I stayed in the will of God for me, and times I did not. I am now 47 years old. I grew up with a Christian mother who taught me at an early age the importance of living for the Lord. My father was an alcoholic who abused my mother and all five of us children. Through it all, she weathered the storm, kept us going to church, and taught us how to apply godly principles in life. I love her dearly and am forever grateful to her for standing for what was right, even amidst the storm. Through the years I have chosen to take “the high road” as did my mother, rather than the evil path of my father. “Why then,” you may be asking, “are you in prison?” That’s a good question, and one I will answer in the columns to come. During a five-year period from 1993-1998, four people, completely independent of one another, spoke the same prophetic words to me, almost word-for-
By Grady B. Rogers
word. One was the lead singer of a Christian band who stopped in the middle of a song and pointed me out in the crowd! Here was their message to me: “God is going to bless you with 100 times more than you have ever had before, and you are going to work with couples who are having trouble in their marriages and with their finances.” God has since shown me that many of those people will be “ex-cons.” In future columns, I will share with you where I was in my life at that time, where I am now, and where I envision myself to be in the days to come as I do my best to stay in the will of God. God is so good, and I want to be a part of His purposes for mankind. Thanks for praying that I can establish a smoking Bible fellowship here at my new facility. Please send any questions or comments to Spirit & Truth Fellowship and they will get them to me. God bless you out there, as we here continue to find freedom behind bars. Note: 1. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA, 1992).
(4) And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: Verse 3 reads well to our English minds just as it is translated in the King James Version. However, the figure of speech Hyperbaton alerts us to the emphasis God wants to place in the verse, because “Jesus Christ our Lord” is placed at the end of the verse. Many modern versions do correctly place the phrase at the end of the verse, and thus place the emphasis where it belongs, on Jesus our Lord. It was the power of the resurrection that once and for all declared Jesus to be the Son of God. Many versions miss this, and read that Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection…” or “was declared to be the Son of God in power by his resurrection.” However, the resurrection did not declare him to be the Son of God “with power,” or the powerful Son of God, as if by the resurrection we would automatically know he was powerful. Rather, it was the power of the resurrection that declared Jesus to be the Son of God. Thus, Jesus was “declared by power to be the Son of God,” or, as Bullinger phrases it, Jesus was “powerfully demonstrated” to be the Son of God by the resurrection. The resurrection was the powerful demonstration that Jesus was the Son of God. Notes: 1. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, reprinted 1968). 2. The (NASB) New American Standard Bible uses the same convention in its translation that the KJV and ASV use: when they add a word for clarity that is not in the Greek text, they italicize it. Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
2008 upcoming events Be sure to check our new Calendar of Events! STFonline.org/calendar
April 16-20, 2008 Spring Bible Study (for beginner students) Bloomington, IN **Registration OPEN** Register online at STFonline.org/register or call us toll free at: 888.255.6189 or 317.255.6189 M-F 8:30 to 5 (EST)
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Fuel for the Fire is written by the Teens and Twenties of Spirit & Truth Fellowship International.
by Joshua Albus
Beyond Romans 10:9 & 10
ello everyone, I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Joshua Albus, and for me, truth matters a great deal. It is one of the reasons for my relocation from Oregon to Indiana. I want to understand the intricacies and details of God’s Word, the Word of Truth. Truth was not always as important to me as it is now. Let me take you back to the summer of 2003. I had just gotten something to eat and was going back to a video game. As I left the kitchen, I happened to glance over and saw my mom at her computer listening to one of Spirit & Truth Fellowship’s teachings. She was diligently studying God’s Word, taking notes, and looking up every passage in her King James Version. You would think that seeing my mom there might motivate me to go read the Word or at the very least give me some joy at seeing her giving her time to God, but it did not. Instead, I felt perplexed and prideful. I thought, “What is the point of studying the Bible? What more is there to the Bible than Romans 10:9 & 10? I’m saved; I don’t see any point in studying the Bible.” I then went blissfully back to my video game. I had not yet figured out that truth matters, and that God’s Word is truth.
“…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” - Matthew 4:4 For the rest of that school year, I led two lives that I kept separated with a wall of deceit. In the light, I was what people expected of me, but in the shadows, I pursued my own sinful desires. Through the whole thing, I used lies and deceit to keep people from ever seeing both of my faces. In the end, it left me empty and starving. At my first Teens & Twenties Camp, God showed me why studying the Word of Truth mattered. It was the first time in my life that I got to meet people, people my age, who studied God’s Word, who understood its significance, and who knew that the Bible was about more than just being saved. They understood
that you “cannot live by bread alone,” and they were there to live on “every word” from God. That is when I realized what would satisfy my hunger: truth—the Word of Truth. Until then, I had sustained myself on lies that I told to my friends, family, and especially to myself. Lies and deception have no sustenance, no nutrients. Like potato chips or soda, lies and deception have empty calories. They will not sustain you, but truth will. Truth has substance; it has all the protein, vitamins, and minerals that you need. Jesus was right when he said: Matthew 4:4 “…It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” After Teens and Twenties Camp, I ate truth. Not only was it nutritious, it tasted great. I decided to make a new start when I began attending Oregon State University (OSU). I read God’s Word, and for the most part, stopped leading a double life. I learned that truth, the Word of Truth, sustains me in ways that nothing else can. Unfortunately, for most of my time at OSU, I was a passive truth seeker. I “ate” what was easily accessible rather than actively foraging (searching) for truth. My experience at OSU taught me that truth is the foundation for your house of love, faith, hope, etc. Truth is the concrete upon which you build your house. If the concrete does not contain enough cement, rock, sand, and water, your foundation will crack and crumble and your house collapses. At OSU, I was faced with many different beliefs ranging from the necessity of water baptism to that of predestination/fate/no freewill being true. It forced me to look at what I believed because I simply had no answer for many of their arguments and statements. My choices were to actively seek truth by searching for answers to these arguments or to continue to passively seek truth by ignoring them. That forced me to either choose to mix my concrete (truth) with care, accuracy, and precision (active
seeking) or to mix my concrete (truth) half-heartedly (passively seeking). Christ worked in me to make me want to actively seek the truth. He is the one who opened the door, asked me to look through, and compare what I saw to that which I already had. I found what I had was lacking in comparison to what he offered, so I wanted truth. I wanted to truly understand the Word of Truth.
86 page Bible Study Guide TruthOrTradition.com/guide
It says in 2 Timothy: 2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Quite frankly, I want to be that workman. I want to understand the Greek and Hebrew culture as well as their language because the truth is now my solid foundation, and it is my sustenance. I do not want to take someone elseâ€™s word for it; I want to see it for myself. Without truth, I would be left with lies that leave me hungry and with a foundation like a cloud. It is a big reason why I moved to Bloomington, Indiana to study with John Schoenheit at Camp Vision. For me, love, faith, hope, truth, etc. are all things that complete me, but truth gives form and solidity to everything else, and upon truth everything else will be built. That is why truth matters to me. Does it matter to you? What are you doing to grasp and hold fast to the Truth? Will you be one of those workmen of the Word so that Jesus can reward you when he returns?
Teens and 20s needed!
If you would like to write a short article for Fuel For the Fire, please contact us at STF@STFonline.org
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DID YOU KNOW... We have video teachings online at: TruthOrTradition.com/freeindeed A special thanks to Raymond (Kim) LeBlond of Tucson, AZ
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Perseverance, Evil, Sin, and Suffering.
I have read through the Sower magazines and the Don’t Blame God book you sent to me and my life is never going to be the same. While I would like to give a detailed feedback of how I have found these materials, I will not be able to because paying for these Internet services is almost beyond my means. In short let me say that these materials have helped me gain a better understanding of the Word’s teaching on Evangelism, Order “Don’t Blame God!” online at STFonline.org/store or see page 3 of the enclosed price list.
Dear Sower, God bless you greatly in the name of Jesus Christ. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and deepest gratitude for the Spirit & Truth Fellowship International Bible Lands Tour this past June. For me it was a twenty-year dream come true, and it surpassed all my expectations. Being at the actual locations where our Lord and Saviour walked, taught, ministered, worked miracles, and suffered for us was a very humbling experience. To walk the actual sites of biblical battles and occasions where great men and women of great faith like Gideon, Deborah, and David achieved victories was a wonderful faith-building experience for me. On top of that, I believe we also received some of the greatest teaching of the Word of God on these records that is available today, as John Schoenheit tirelessly and passionately made the Word alive for us. It was surely a great blessing that I will draw on for the rest of my life. It is not that I believe that to build great faith you must visit these sites, as faith still comes by the preaching and hearing of God’s Word, but I believe it was a very personal blessing that enhanced my own perception of the biblical records, and many Scriptures I now view in a different light. In some way I liken it as switching from black and white television (I still remember that from my childhood) to color television – you can still see the details but they are enriched and come alive much more. That is
I have passed through so much in life that I have been blaming God, my family, and Society for. Thanks that now I know God and His Son for who they really are - helpers and not torturers. That knowledge will help me to move forward more determined, more focused, without bitterness, and with my heart full of God’s Peace. I am now ready to turn to God and my Savior for help in times of need without having to blame them. I promise to share this truth with many others. Yours sincerely, Elijah K. Mutua Ruaraka Local Church Assembly Nairobi, Kenya, Africa
something I now experience in my reading of the Word too, as I read with an enhanced appreciation, understanding, and joy. Being in Israel brought me closer to the biblical records and connected me more to God and Jesus Christ. I am now much more inspired to step out and walk in faith, and in that sense it was a pilgrimage too. There is so much more I could say, but I would like to mention that for me safety was never really an issue. I felt completely safe at all times knowing that God wanted me there and that I was under His protection. It was a privilege and a joy to pray for this beautiful country and the wonderful people there from all nationalities and backgrounds, knowing that God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. So, above all I thank God for making this tour available for me, and I am very thankful to John and Jenivee Schoenheit and everybody else who worked so hard to make this amazing journey a great blessing. My thanks also go to the wonderful and inspiring group of believers for being such a loving example of the Body of Christ. I encourage you to start saving now for the next tour, scheduled for 2009. With much love Rainer Schroeder Germany
love to We would you! hear from t Email us a nline.org STF@STFo
Becoming a Christian: Why? What? How? Below is a list of the languages that our booklet Becoming A Christian - Why? What? How? has been translated into: Arabic - TruthOrTradition.com/15 Cebuano - TruthOrTradition.com/16 English - TruthOrTradition.com/17 French – TruthOrTradition.com/18 Italian - TruthOrTradition.com/19 Korean - TruthOrTradition.com/20 Polish – TruthOrTradition.com/21 Portuguese - TruthOrTradition.com/22 Spanish - TruthOrTradition.com/23 Swedish - TruthOrTradition.com/24 Urdu - TruthOrTradition.com/25
Would you like to help us translate this booklet into your native language??? Contact us at STF@STFonline.org
The Sower Jan/Feb 2008
Free Indeed Videos
Now on MySpace.com for FREE
A special thanks goes out to Raymond (Kim) LeBlond of Tucson, AZ, a faithful Partner that is converting our VHS Free Indeed cable TV broadcast shows by John Schoenheit and uploading them to MySpace.com So far he has already uploaded sixteen 30 minute video teachings. They are low quality but we think they will still be a huge blessing to you. As always, we would love your feedback. Kim has about 110 more teachings to convert and upload. All of which he is doing on a volunteer basis.
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For audio teachings and articles of the subject of TRUTH, visit TruthOrTradition.com/truth