Should a Christian Vote in a Political Election? Part 1

Some of our readers may remember that back during the election we posted some information about the Christian and the Civil Government and God’s relationship to the Civil Government. I am glad to inform you that much insightful and spirited conversation ensued from that article, perhaps eliciting a greater response than any we have yet put up. In regards to some of the questions and comments I think it good to revisit the issue and establish more firmly some biblical facts.
There are many today who believe that it is not only a Christian’s God given right, or liberty to vote, but that it is a Christian’s responsibility, some even saying that it is a sin NOT to vote! Others believe that it is not only unwise or unnecessary, but even that the it is a sin TO vote! I believe that this alone is reason enough to give the issue some due consideration.

God’s Providence

There are few subjects more awesome, mysterious and wonderful that that of God’s providence or, his management and guidance over this universe. While we are insured time and time again of God’s omnipotence, there is not much that we are told of how God works insomuch as this is involved. It seems that the old adage, “the Lord moves in mysterious ways” is very applicable. Even inspired writers were hesitant to label something as definitely being the product of God’s providence. (Esther 4:14; Philemon 1:5) This is a subject which merits a lengthy study in its own right, but for now we consider what if anything, the Bible says about God’s providential control of the Kingdoms of Men.

The Devil and Civil Government

As was said in our last article, it is the belief of the writer that in a most intimate way, the Devil is the Ruler of Earthly Kingdoms. What does that mean? Well, quite simply it means that our President and congress are not making decisions and policies based upon the Bible, which is the sole medium through which God leads men’s actions in the world today. As far as I know there is no nation on this earth who is governed by strict adherence to the scriptures, if there was it wouldn’t be a nation, it would be a congregation of the Lord’s church! And so we have no reason to doubt at least a part of Satan’s statement to Jesus in Luke 4 “for this has been delivered to me…” (verse 6) man kind delivered a measure of the service to their devil when they turned their backs on God as their kings chose to follow after the flesh and carnal desires. Satan continued by claiming to Jesus that he “gives” authority and glory in earthly kingdoms “to whomsoever he wishes.” Well now, that is an interesting thought isn’t it! Here Satan Claims that HE gives out the power in man’s kingdoms! Is that true? Well Jesus did not argue with him, he did not tell him that his words were false. How could it be that Satan gives civil authority? I find no scripture to indicate that Satan has the powers of deity; I don’t believe that he does, but it does seem that sometimes the works of his followers are attributed to him. The world serves the devil, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and the world chooses who is put in office, whether by voting in an election or by violently taking and giving a throne in a civil war or some such thing. The word of God does not lead men to these things, so they are attributed to be works of the Devil.

God and the Civil Government

That being said we must also recognize that the Bible clearly teaches that God rules amidst the kingdoms of men as well. How does he do it? I do not know! The Bible tells us that years ago God “sent” nations here and there to do this and that. He called wicked Gentile kings his “servants” when he “used” them to accomplish some task. In fact in some cases we find were the Bible specifically tells of God raising up a man to set on the throne and striking another king dead for allowing himself to be worshiped. These brief glimpses behind the curtain of mystery which hides God’s providential work from our eyes only arouse our interest and amazement, but they do not answer the question of how. It is this writer’s firm conviction that God has in his power the ability to create and destroy as he wills, and that regardless of the Civil leaders, God is the master of this Universe, but how directly or indirectly does he involve himself? Beyond what the Bible specifically reveals we cannot know!

Does God Use Christians to Vote in His Candidate?

It is really amazing how providence is viewed as ammo for both sides of this issue! Some tell us that God providentially chooses every civil leader and if we vote, and happen to vote for the wrong person we have violated God’s will by voting against His candidate! Others tell us that God providentially uses Christians to put his person in office. To this writer there is still a great question that might never be fully answered as to how involved God is with the election and authority of every civil leader, but lets just say that God did use Christians to vote in his candidate. How would he do it? How would we know who to vote for? God does not highjack the free-will of men and guide them supernaturally, separate and apart from the scripture! If God wanted us to vote he would have told us how to vote in the scripture! He would have given some kind of principles to follow in our civil work, but the Bible still only tells Christians: pay, pray and obey. To just suppose that God wants you to vote and that some how he is going to ensure that you vote for the right person is to make broader, more sweeping assumptions about God’s providence than even the Apostles were willing to make! If there is justification or commandment for a Christian to vote, I do not believe it is to be found here. – CED

Of Good Report…

Today there is no doubt that Churches of Christ in America recognize a strong need for scriptural church government in “every city” and at the same time a great dearth of such government is present.
Back in 1990, Brother J. F. Dancer, Jr. made the observation that there was a severe shortage of scriptural elderships in American churches writing in the Guardian of Truth that many congregations have existed for up to fifty years (or more) who do not have scriptural Elders and Deacons, and seem to have no plan to get them any time soon.

Brother Dancer observed what had been done to alleviate the elder shortage. “Some congregations are disregarding the Bible and installing men who do not even come close to the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Men have been appointed without any children and with children who are not believers. Men are in “eldership” who could not teach the first principles, much less convince the gainsayer. Others are designated who are not married and some who are barely 25 years of age and only a very short time as children of God” (Guardian of Truth; Feb. 1, 1990) Brother Dancer wisely observed that, “this is no way to properly solve this shortage.”

Some have claimed that the growth and stability of the early church is impossible to replicate. They tell us that in those days, when folks where going around from town to town and city to city working all sorts of wondrous miracles that the church grew and people where more faithful and thus it was easier to find qualified men. Well, I don’t doubt that the Church grew more and perhaps s people where more faithful and dedicated to the Gospel back then, but I charge that any one who says they had some privilege, some tool that we today do not have is wrong! The Apostle Paul described our condition, that is our having the word of God in it’s complete form, as “a more excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 12:31) We ought not look longingly back at the age of miracles and think that they had something better. That is not to blame for our elder shortage today.

One of the great reasons, I believe, why 50+ year old congregations don’t have any elders is that our boys aren’t being prepared for the position! Families don’t instill in there sons a desire for the office and they don’t discipline them enough that they live in a way to be ready for it when they are old enough. I just don’t hear very many young men who say, “I want to find a wife who will help me be an elder!” and I don’t hear very many young ladies who say they desire the position of an elder’s wife. Remember What Paul said to Timothy, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. (1 Timothy 3:1)

I write much of this to young men and boys who like myself are in a very important time of growth and development in their Christian lives. We need to give sincere and earnest attention to these things. I will say here at the start that I know of many young men who are doing right and are on the road to being great servants of the Lord and the Church, but I know of many who have perhaps never taken the time to think about this.

Certainly one thing vitally important to the developing young Christian boy, in order that he be ready for the eldership, is an intense study of the Word of God. An elder must be “apt to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2) We have plenty of young men who can work wonders on and X-Box but wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to putting together a sermon and don’t seem very interested in learning. To the young men – put down those video game controllers and pick up a Bible, go to some of these older men in the church, preachers and teachers, and ask them for help in working up sermons and finding a good study plan.

But in a grave and serious way young men need to consider there reputation as a factor in how they will be able to serve God in their aged years. In 1 Timothy 3:7 Paul writes, “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” Other statements build off of this idea. I really don’t think that many boys consider this. I know a lot of young fellows who seem to think they can live, and date and party, and carry on how ever they want to while they are teenagers (and some on up into there 20’s) and then when they get to be about 35 they will start calming down and acting mature and worrying about what folks think of them. Well I am afraid that by that time it is often to late! People’s reputations are already destroyed beyond repair!

To boys who go around to these big meetings and womanize with all of the young sisters – be careful of the reputation you are building and the hard feelings you are stirring up in the Church. That may come back to haunt you years later when you seek the respect of those people, how many times I hear it said of a preacher or teacher, “well yeah, he talks big now, but I knew him when he was a kid and he treated all of the girls like dirt and only went after the ones who were dressed immodestly and had a bad reputation themselves.” To boys who are scoff laws, always speeding and trespassing on private property, always getting in trouble with the authorities and acting belligerent and rebellious about it – “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:1-4) Why do you think Paul wrote this to the saints in Rome? It was because they were going to undergo persecution soon by the government and they needed to have a reputation with the local authorities as decent, respectful, law abiding citizens for there own protection. Are you living in a way that will bring the church a good relationship with the Law, or will your behavior put the church under suspicion and ridicule? The clothes you wear, the attitude you have toward your elders and those in authority, the way you work on your job, all of these things determine whether or not you can one day serve the Church in that wonderful and desperately needed office of an elder? How is it with you young men? How is it with your sons parents?CED

Standing For Christ

When we read through the Bible we quickly begin to see those who successfully stood for God and His message to man, and those who didn’t.

Who stood for God? We see that Noah stood for God in the face of the entire world’s disobedience. He and his family alone were spared from the great deluge because of their love and respect for the Creator.

Moses stood for God in the face of the most powerful king in the world at that time. However, Moses also had to stand with God in the face of all the Israelites who would frequently rebel against God’s orders.

Joshua stood for the Lord and made his most remembered quote, “As for me and my house we shall serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

Nehemiah stood for God and His holy city of Jerusalem when the Israelites had no place to worship. In just fifty-two days all of the walls of the city were rebuilt, a work that should have taken several years. In this course of building, Nehemiah had to deal with outside skeptics and some unjust quarrels on the inside. The strength to deal with it all came from his stand with God.

John the Baptist stood for Christ when many were unsure of His coming. John taught repentance and preparation for Jesus appearance and entrance into His kingdom. John lost his life when he stood behind his God-sent message for King Herod’s repentance of adultery.

Most importantly we must know that Jesus stood for us, and He still stands. Once He stood in our place and was sentenced to death on the cross for our sins. Now He stands as Mediator between His Father and us.

The great question to ask now is, “Who shall stand for Christ?”

Who will stand now? In Isaiah 66:1-2 the scripture quotes God as saying He would look on those who feared and trembled before Him. Paul says that we should “stand fast” or hold on to the freedom from sin and the promises that Christ has left us.

Who shall stand for Christ in our homes? The New Testament teaches Christians how to take care of their homes. This home life grandly demonstrates our love and respect for the order that God has created. I Timothy 5:8 teaches that there must provision for the needs of the home or there will be unwanted consequences to pay. Of course, there must be physical provision, but there must also be spiritual provision to give God His glory. A well kept home stands for Christ and honors God.

Who shall stand for the congregations? The congregations need solid leadership. Every person must do his or her part to ensure that this occurs. This means leadership and submission. I Peter 5:8 teaches us that we should have elders and deacons. In order to have that caliber of leadership we need to consider our future placement in these positions and live our lives to fulfill them.

Who shall stand for preaching? Romans 10:13-15 gives us the urgency to have preachers and to send them out to spread that divine message. If an individual member cannot fulfill the role of preacher then that one should support the one who can. Prayer and spiritual backing is quite necessary to keep a stable supply of preachers. With the congregations behind them more men will have greater assurance to keep standing for Christ and thus the message is preserved.

How shall we stand? Romans 5:1-4, II Thessalonians 2:15, Ephesians 6:10-13 teach that we stand by faith and the grace of God, the traditions of the gospel, and by the power of Christ’s might with the armor that He has provided us.

Know this, that one day every person who has ever lived or who shall ever live, will stand before the great throne and give an account for the life lived. If we stand for Christ now, the standing at the judgment need not be done in fear.

Sean S. McCallister


The following article is an answer to questions concerning the need for re-baptism if one has been baptized for the remission of sins in a denomination. The article was written by Ronny F. Wade and has been printed with his permission. We commend it to you. – Clint De France

The controversy over the rebaptism issue has been long and often heated. One of the early debates that I have in my library between J.N. Cowan and Daniel Sommer covered this topic. Sommer took the liberal view that those coming from denominations, who understood what baptism was for, did not need to be rebaptized. Cowan believed they did. He and others referred to the process of receiving these people without baptism as “shaking them in.” David Lipscomb, who also took the more liberal view, came under attack from a number of more conservative brethren. Just as then, so now, the controversy continues. Many today claim that so long as a person being baptized understands what they are doing and why, their baptism is acceptable. Others, who are somewhat more conservative, believe that the baptism must be for the remission of sins, but is acceptable even though it was a part of joining a denomination. Finally, there is the view that not only must one be baptized for the remission of sins, but must also be aware of the fact that he/she is being baptized into Christ i.e. his spiritual body, and not some denomination. It is the last view that this writer supports.
Before giving the reasons why, let me point out that even though many feel their baptism was for the remission of sins, in reality it may not have been. I have talked with several who devoutly claimed that “their preacher” or “their church” baptized for the remission of sins. However, when checking they learned the very opposite. But what about a denomination that does baptize for the remission of sins? Can we accept that baptism? Are those people added to the church (Acts 2:47) against their will and without their knowledge? I personally do not think so.
A careful study of the scripture reveals that Bible baptism is not only for the remission of sins, to wash away sins, to save, but also includes “some things concerning the Lord’s kingdom.” Peter taught this very thing in Acts 2:29-36. Again in Acts 8:5, “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” What all did preaching Christ include? Note verse 12, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ ,they were baptized, both men and women.” Thus preaching Christ includes “the things concerning the kingdom of Christ and the name or authority of Jesus. When Philip “preached Jesus” to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35) he also preached about baptism (Acts 8:36). To preach “Jesus” or “Christ unto them” is to preach what one must do to be saved and some “things concerning the kingdom.”
I deny that denominational preachers who preach baptism for the remission of sins are preaching the gospel. There is more to the gospel than preaching baptism. If a denominational preacher were preaching the gospel, he wouldn’t be in the denomination, since the Bible condemns such. When he baptizes someone, he does so with the idea that they are becoming a member of his church i. e. denomination. Were you do ask that person after their baptism what church they were a member of, they would reply by naming the denomination into which they had been baptized. They certainly would not say “I am now a member of the church of Christ.” Were you to ask the denominational preacher who did the baptizing if he was a member of the one church he would more than likely reply “yes”, because he believes the denomination of which he is a part is the one true church. However, such is not the case. No denomination is the one true church.
Years ago Brother Tom Smith of Healdton, OK, used the following illustration, which I think is as good as I have ever heard on this subject: A man wants to join the Masonic Lodge and goes through all the requirements to do so. In the process he passes the morals requirements, he recites certain passages from their books and undergoes initiation rites required by them. Finally, he is granted membership in the lodge. Some years later he decides he would like to become an Oddfellow. So he goes to them and gets the requirements for joining their lodge. To his surprise he finds that they require some of the very things he did to become a Mason. He tells them that he has already done those things and wants to be accepted as an Oddfellow on that basis. They refuse telling him that becoming a Mason did not make him an Oddfellow even though some of the requirements may have been the same. Brethren, the same is true with the church of our Lord. Even though a denomination may baptize for the remission of sins, when you go into that body, the Lord does not add you to his church (Acts 2:47). If he does, you are added to the church of Christ, without your knowledge and against your will, for you had no intention of becoming a member of the body of Christ when you joined the denomination. Who can
believe it?

Book Reviews and News

This is a new item that will be appearing on the site. Soon we will have special locations dedicated to these topics but for now here is a sampling.

The Book Review section will be called, “The Preacher’s Bookshelf”

The Preacher’s Bookshelf

By C. E. De France

The Mission and Medium of the Holy Spirit Foy E. Wallace Jr. (1967 © Foy Wallace Jr. Publications)

This is certainly one of the finest books I have ever read on the subject, written by a master scholar of God’s Word. A brother once told me, “It is a hit or miss with Foy Wallace, he’s either way off, or he nails it better than anyone else.” This is a hit, I do believe. The pros are defiantly the masterful scholarly work, and the cons are the wordiness which will make it, at times, difficult for some (like myself) to read. It is a rather small, paperback booklet; 148 pages, but very broad in its address of these very important topics. Chapters dealing with the “Gift of the Holy Spirit,” and the “Spirit and the Word,” will be especially helpful in combating some of the ideas regarding “a personal indwelling” that are, and have been for many years circulating among our own. In chapter one, “The Current Crusade”, he writes of the troublesome trends that were taking form among the Sunday School church many years ago. We who have observed have seen things get much worse. We advise the reading of the work in order to better appreciate the value of Bible study, better understand this great topic, and better appreciate how this Holy Spirit is working in your life today. CED

And Another section on Religious and Moral World News entitled, “Current Events” –

“The Divorce Rate is Dropping in America!”

Taken from Bob Jones University’s “What in the World” commenting on an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune (5/11/07)

“Yes, the divorce rate in America is actually dropping and is now at the lowest point since 1970, but the reasons are not encouraging, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune: ‘The number of couples living together without marrying has increased tenfold since 1960, the marriage rate has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the last 25 years, and Americans are waiting about five years longer to marry than they did in 1970.’

Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation suggests that a lower divorce rate does not mean that kids are faring better than before: ‘Cohabitation (What we call “Shacking up” – CED) is very fragile, and when unmarried parents split, for the child it might as well be a divorce,” he says. “Among those who are marrying there is increased stability, but overall the children of the nation are getting a rawer and rawer deal from their parents.’” (Submitted by Clint DeFrance)

We hope that you will enjoy these new additions to the website and we invite and encourage your thoughts and criticisms.

Abortion and Total Hereditary Depravity

In a recent issue of the Old Paths Advocate Brother Brett Hickey wrote an excellent article on Original Sin. As he began to discuss the age of innocence an interesting thought came to my mind. Total hereditary depravity states that, “Adam became sinful, and hence all of his posterity are born in a state of sin, or with a sinful nature.”

Taking verses like Psalms 51:5, Romans 5:12 and Exodus 20:5 out of context the doctrine of original sin goes so far as to say that we are separated from God, by the sin of Adam, before we are even born! There is much discussion over the question of when life begins. Most Evangelicals agree that life begins as conception (and I agree) but I wonder when condemnation begins? According to the creeds it begins even prior to birth! The undelivered fetus is bathed in iniquity and guilt and, should that fetus die before being delivered and baptized, by the justice of God it is doomed to Hell! It is quite unusual to me to hear proponents of this doctrine speaking out against abortion.

In my home town of Springfield, Missouri I have been put into a deeply religious community and the radio and television is flooded with religious programs pushing Fundamentalist values and so-called “conservative” activism. I have heard several of these “Conservatives” and “Fundamentalists”, who teach hereditary depravity, condemn abortion as one of the seven things God hates, “hands that shed innocent blood”(Proverbs 16:17). And I read a letter from a Presbyterian (Calvinist) preacher who condemned the abortion doctor by citing that, “Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person.” (Deut. 27:25). Does anyone else see the inconsistency here? If the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and the unborn infant is covered in the sin-guilt of Adam he is guilty, not innocent, and deserves to die!

Brother Hickey stated that a host of plain scriptures confirm the conclusion that there is an age of innocence and an age of accountability and that unborn fetus’ (though already human), infants and young children fall under the former. “Jesus himself said when infants were brought to him in Luke 18:16, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” And again in Mt. 18:3, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Paul says essentially the same thing in 1 Cor. 14:20, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes…” (NKJV) Young children, like the invalid and mentally deficient are not accountable. “Your little ones… have no knowledge of good and evil.” (Deut. 1:39) “The imagination of a mans heart is evil from his youth.”(Gen. 1:21)” The word youth in that passage refers one about the age of twenty (Wilson) not an unborn child.

Among the arguments put forth to prove the depravity of infants that I have heard, one that I found particularly interesting, and in all honesty one that gave me pause for a few days to consider it was this: “If infants are not full of sin and iniquity why then did not Abraham gather up ten infants and present them to God in order that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah might be spared.” (A private conversation between myself and a Reformed Church minister) At first this seemed to me a very difficult question to answer, but considering the scripture I believe that it can be answered rather simply. The incident that the minister referred to was that which is recorded in Genesis 18 when Abraham was visited by the Lord’s angels and told of the impending doom that was to come upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their grotesque wickedness and Abraham in his pleading intercession begged the Lord to have mercy on the cities. Let us notice the conversation recorded in verses 22-33, “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.” Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.” And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?” So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.” Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?” So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.” Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.” Now, the Minister says that Abraham should have pointed out to God that there were ten babies in the city and thus ten righteous people! Well, there is one problem with this argument and that is that the term righteous means “one who does right.” Can that be said to describe and infant? Certainly not! Infants do not do right, neither do they do wrong, they are undeveloped both physically and mentally so that they do nothing moral or immoral, obedient or disobedient. Thus infants are not righteous or unrighteous, they are unaccountable. Some ask if infants are saved and the answer is NO! Infants are not saved because in order to be saved you would have had to have been lost at some point, infants are safe, not saved!

Thanks be to our loving God that the Child is innocent, free from sin and the curse of it. It is true that God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” but when faced with man’s doctrine of Original Sin we have a problem for under such a doctrine the babe is not innocent. This is one of many dire moral consequences of Calvinism. This error proves that the doctrine is not of God. We need not worry for the souls of countless infants slain in this country every day. Fear not mothers who have lost your children for as was said by J. V. Updike, “Just because you are born in a Potato patch, that doesn’t make you a potato.”- CED

Glory or Embarrassment?

By Sean S McCallister

Jesus spoke beautiful words to the disciples when He told them to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16  It is not the opinion of this writer that He was giving the people an option.  Glory is defined as: honor, majesty, brightness, splendor, renown.  The tenor of the New Testament is to give glory to God.

The Apostle Paul spoke the command like this, “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Rom. 15:5-6

The act of giving God the glory means that we must put away our self-will and seek the Divine.  Our merciful Father has provided a method for this to occur; “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”  Eph. 4:11-13   Does the reader notice the word “edifying” in the above text?  Edifying is building or lifting up.  Notice what Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”

The Christ has been lifted up to the cross and rose to the throne of heaven, now we, the church,  must lift Him up in this world that lost souls may see Him, be saved and glorify the Father.

Alas, there is another word we must define, reproach.  Reproach means: a disgrace, indignity, or shame; as an action it is to defame, rail, or tease.  A modern word for reproach might well be: embarrassment.

Would you willingly embarrass yourself?  Your family?  God?

When we cease to glorify God, we must be causing embarrassment.  Considering the humiliation and degradation that the Son of God suffered as lost listeners, liars, and lunatics laughed at His words, notice how He submitted to the will of God anyway.  “For even Christ pleased not Himself: but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me’.”  Rom 15:3

People embarrass the Lord and His church when they refuse His counsel and walk in their own ways.  Just as it was done then, it is done now through rejection, substitution, and innovation.

We are to be a peculiar people, but when we do so many things to blend in and not embarrass ourselves, are we pleasing to God?  Is this the same “faith which was once delivered unto the saints?”  “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)” Phil. 3:18-19 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Col3:1-2

Let us once again have an open Bible and open hearts in our congregations.  Let us have the obedience and submission to God’s holy will that brings salvation, peace, righteousness, and true union.  “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.”  Let us stop embarrassing ourselves and the Lord with foolishness and “abstain from every appearance of evil” that we might regain our homes, our congregations, and the souls of the lost.

If we must be embarrassed, let it be of the world’s insults of Christianity and not our own.  “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what
shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”   First Peter 4:14-19

The Operation of the Holy Spirit: Direct or Indirect

Over the years there have been a great many good, honest, and sincere brethren who have held to the doctrine of a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As I look into the teachings of scripture, though I do not doubt their wisdom or intelligence, I cannot agree that this is the truth. A number of old worthies, so far as I understand, held this position. But while they contended that the Holy Spirit Himself inhabited their bodies, they did not argue any operation, separate and apart from the word. In fact, from what I have heard, they would freely admit that He did nothing separate from the Word. Over time the generations that followed, and held the same belief, took it a step further,  arguing that He did something, but they didn’t know what it was, some suggested there was no way of knowing. Finally we are now in a dark stage of this idea’s development, as men are boldly and brazenly declaring that the Holy Spirit has specific operations that He works in the lives of men without the medium of the Word (directly or personally). Some take it further than others, but all are in a very dangerous position that compromises many fundamental truths of God’s Word, including the Bible’s claims about itself.

The Bible’s Claims About Itself

The same scriptures that we have used for years to fight the Catholics, Mormons, and Holy Rollers, challenge this idea of direct operation. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that the “scripture” makes us “perfect” and “thoroughly furnishes us unto every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17) We learn form the Apostle Peter that through the “knowledge ofHim” we are given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) How do we come to the “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” by some miraculous, supernatural, unexplainable working of God? NO! The Bible is clear in informing us that knowledge of God comes only by the Word. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) This is the Holy Spirit working our lives! “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God… For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12,16) 

The Bible says that it does this great work of perfecting, edifying, and furnishing, and that it does it perfectly and thoroughly. Shall we call the word of God a liar? This truly is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!

What Does the Holy Spirit Do that the Word Does not Do?

The Bible is very clear in informing us what the work of the Holy Spirit is, yet these personal indwelling, direct operation folks try to make it ambiguous and uncertain. When Christ promised to send Him in the 14th chapter of John, He explained why He would be coming: He would comfort, He would convict, He would convert, He would guide, and He would abide forever. All these things areaccomplished in the Word!

I heard a man teach at a funeral not so long ago, that Christians should allow the indwelling Spirit to give the peace and comfort, “and then seek your comfort from the scripture.” This is incredulous! Earlier this year I lost my father to cancer, this ended a long and agonizing experience of watching him suffer. It would have been easy for me to blame God and be lost in despair. But that didn’t happen, the Holy Spirit did what He was sent to do, He comforted me as I read of a hope in the resurrection of Christ Jesus, as I read of the paradise that awaits the saved and the victory through Christ over death and the grave. Apart from the scripture I had no comfort, no rest, and no peace.

I have further known many Christians who were engaged in wrong doing, ignorant of there sin, and were not compelled to stop until, shown in the Word of their error.  They were convicted. Did the Holy Spirit not dwell in them? If so why did He not personally queue them in on their wrongdoing? On the day of Pentecost, how did those Jews fall under conviction that moved them to repent? By the working of the Holy Spirit? Yes, of course! Then, by direct operation? NO! The Bible tells us, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

What about conversion? This too cannot be done with the Word. “Faith cometh by hearing…” When Cornelius, the believing gentile, desired salvation, he prayed to God, and God sent Peter to preach to him. Remember the prayer of Jesus, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Some will testify, “I have been in a tough situation, when I didn’t know what to do and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me what was right.” If ever a man was guided to do what is right, he was guided through the word. David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” What could we ask for that God has not provided in His perfect word? Nothing I say, indeed God has given exceeding abundantly more than we could ever deserve.

Romans 8:26

Many, in desperation turn to Romans chapter 8 and verse 26 as a final proof that the Holy Spirit works separate from the word. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Why must one assume that this is done separate from the Word, indeed in cannot be, for it deals with edification. We know this cannot be referring to intercession between God and man, for that is done by Christ alone (Romans 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:5), but this presents no problem, the 8th chapter of Romans is to Christians who are already restored to God, the “weakness” here mentioned is that of the flesh, a weakness of ignorance. When we are dead in sin we are without any knowledge of how to please or worship God, so when we are made alive in Christ our “mind must be renewed by the Spirit.” (Romans 12:2) We who do not even know how to talk to God can cry out, “Lord, teach us how to pray!” And in this weakness the Holy Spirit will intercede with edification through the word (Matt. 6:5-7; Mark 11:24)

Accusations: If He Doesn’t Work This Way, He Doesn’t Exist

These have been thrown these accusations at me, but they are foolish indeed. In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. For six days He continued to create, but on the seventh day He rested, He stopped creating, and has never worked in this manner since. That is not to say that He has lost any of His power or that He no longer exists, He just doesn’t work that way anymore. It was said of Abel that he, “Being dead, yet speaks.” Now he doesn’t speak like he used to, but he still speaks. The Holy Spirit is not dead, the Holy Spirit is not resting. He is working today, doing what he was sent here to do, but he is doing that work through the instrument of God’s Holy Word. CED

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