(by Clint Defrance)
(by Clint Defrance)
(by Clint Defrance)
(by Allen Bailey)
One Way Street to Hell
|John 1: 17||John 1: 17 Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ|
|Romans 3:24||John 18: 38 Pilate asked: “What is Truth?”|
|Ephesians 1: 7||John 8: 32 Truth shall set you free|
|Ephesians 2: 5||John 14:6 I am the way, truth, life|
|Ephesians 2: 8-10||John 17: 17 Thy word is Truth|
The congregational teacher is a most noble position in the service to the Lord. It is a position of instruction as well as leadership. Typically, as the pulpit goes so goes the congregation.
I receive a number of distressing calls each week from members of various congregations. The number one problem they wish to discuss is the lack of edification in their respective places of worship. Sometimes my heart goes out to them in true pity. Sometimes anger. Sometimes disappointment. Sometimes helplessness.
What is the reason for all of this dissatisfaction? The congregational teacher.
Too often the problem lies with the teacher because he has not given sufficient time to study and prepare. Brethren, even the most seasoned of preachers cannot maintain a solid, vibrant, growing congregation without effort. Though congregations may be small, rural, have only one or two teachers, elderly, etc. there is no excuse for a lack of spiritual edification!
If you are a teacher, obey the scriptures and “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) Don’t try to reinvent the gospel wheel, preaching still works. Approach the pulpit with dignity and respect because you are about to utter the words of the Most High. Study your subject thoroughly and not just on Saturday night before you go to bed. If you want to do something “new,” try working on your delivery. Raise and lower your voice to emphasize the meanings of scriptures. Practice preaching at the building before the time comes to give the lesson. Keep your topic focused but notice the details that surround your topic, make the words come alive with love, wisdom and conviction. Notice the body language of your audience, see if they are with you as you speak. Encourage your congregation to ask you questions about your lesson, after all, you have nothing to hide. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Rom 1:16-17)
If you are not a teacher, do your part by paying attention. Get plenty of rest before service. Take notes, even if you feel the speaker is dragging on. Consider your body language from the pulpit’s view. Encourage your congregational teacher with suggestions on subjects that need to be taught. Be Christian enough not to pout or become angry when you find yourself guilty of one of those topics. Come to every service and arrive on time. (If you are a Christian man who does not think the teaching at your congregation is sufficient, learn to teach.) Ask the teacher questions after services. Don’t lie to him if you couldn’t understand anything by saying, “That was a good sermon brother.” Speak gently, but let him know that you are needing more than what you are currently receiving. If all else fails and you simply cannot be edified with your speaker, begin at the same scripture that he began with and study for yourself during that time. Use the references in your Bible to lead you on a fact finding journey until you can be appreciative of the time spent. “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (I Thess. 5:11)
I assure you that if you will apply the effort you will have edification.
Let me alert you to the dangers that may plague your congregation if you don’t seek edification in the Bible pattern. Members will want to try new things with the hope of bringing a better understanding to their group: Bible classes are in vogue now; Lazy leadership encourages the unqualified to be spiritual guides;
Innovations come in, someone suggested that we use recorded sermons instead of the local talent because they were so desperate for teaching; Long-held convictions become like wavering doubts as people “give in” for the necessity to change etc. In a word, DESTRUCTION! “ For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Tim 4:3-4)
We can and should have edification if everyone will do his or her part. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:11-16)
YOU ARE OF YOUR FATHER…
Have you ever wondered why John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees vipers? What were some of the curses God used in the Garden of Eden? What is the significance of the serpent-dragon in the Revelation letter? Who are the sons of God? Who are the sons of Satan? We shall attempt to answer all of these questions and more.
The Old Testament Account
In Genesis chapter 3 we read about man’s fall from the grace of Eden and the curses that were put on those involved. Adam was to keep the ground and eat by result of hard labor. Eve was going to have pain when she gave birth. Aging and death would eventually occur, and alas, the burden of sin which no common man could remove.
Yet there was another curse that was just as poignant, the curse on the serpent. Verses fourteen and fifteen, “So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
God declares that the serpent [Satan] was cursed and doomed for causing the best part of creation [man] to fall. “On your belly you shall go, and eat dust all the days of your life,” a hard punishment? Not yet. “You shall bruise His heel, and He shall bruise your head.” This is the greater curse–a mortal wound!
Because of the attempted alliance to the creation, God said, “I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed.” There is an invoking of hostility yet no threat by the Holy Father to remove man’s free choice. In essence, those that follow the Divine are His children and those that follow the Rebel are his children.
This understanding is recognized right away in the sixth chapter verses one through six. “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
The “sons” of God saw the “daughters” of men, married them and, losing favor with God, created a generation of giants. The Hebrew word for giants here is Nephil, which is translated better as “tyrants or bully”– hence giants or “men of renown.” Succeeding this account is the story of Noah and then the greedy men of Babel.
All through the Scripture we have this struggle of “Who is right?” presented to us. The question was asked to Christ in John six, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” In the account given to us in Numbers twenty-one, Israel was not following God. As a punishment and hard reminder of the earlier rebellions, He sent poisonous snakes into the camp. To save the people from their punishable sins (because God is not willing that any should perish, nor can He tolerate sin), Moses was commanded to raise a brass snake and put it on a pole. All who were bitten were obliged to look at the brass snake and live. Those that quickly changed their minds from sin hastened to the brass snake– those who refused… This gives us a little more meaning to the Scripture, “Now is the day of salvation.”
The New Testament Account
John the Baptist also knew the children of the Devil. Matthew chapter seven teaches us that upon seeing the Pharisees and Sadducees John addressed them as the “brood [offspring] of vipers” because they often addressed themselves as Abraham’s heirs.
Jesus continued the thoughts of John and the curse from God when He spoke to the rebellious ones in Matthew chapter twelve stating, “He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” To those that scatter in verse thirty-four they are once again addressed as vipers.
The greatest evidence of Satan’s children is found in John chapter eight. Christ stated that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. By contrast the righteous actions of the faithful make them slaves of righteousness. Causing deep stirrings with such words, the people cried out, “We are Abraham’s seed!” Jesus replied in verses thirty-nine through forty-one, “Do the works of Abraham [be faithful to God].” In verse forty-four Jesus tells them plainly, “You are of your father the Devil and you wish to do the desires of you father.” He, Satan, was a slayer of men from the beginning because Truth was not in him.
A person who believes a lie soon sins and becomes a slave to it. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” In spreading that truth, Christ sent out His disciples to preach in the cities. To those cities that chose not to receive freedom, the disciples were commanded to kick the dust off their feet as a throwback to the curse in Genesis chapter three, “eat dust…”
In preparing the disciples for that same mission of freedom spreading, Jesus told the men to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16.
Paul says of the unjustified in Romans chapter three verses ten through eighteen that, “the poison of asps is behind their lips,” and “they have not known the way of peace for there is no fear of God before their eyes.” How did the serpent trick Eve? He took the fear of God out of her focus.
James admonishes that all men’s mouths should speak the truth and not poisonous words, but we tend bless God and curse man who is in the image of God. James 3:8-10.
It is little wonder why Satan and his puppets are referred to as dragons, sea monsters, giants, and serpents throughout the Scripture. God sheds light and reveals the hidden things of darkness so that we may clearly see things as they are. As the enlightened of God we see Satan as he was introduced to us before…(Revelation 12:9) “ So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Whose child are you? Have you been enlightened from darkness? Or are you locked in the chains of sin and darkness still?
“No servant can serve two masters…”– Jesus (Matthew 6:24)
A great topic of discussion in sectarian circles these days is the need for instilling a “Christian World View” in the minds of believers. As I understand this term, it refers to the attitude that we have when addressing all the areas of life around us. A true “Christian World View” would insist that we base all of our decisions and opinions of things on what the Bible says. This is easier dreamed of than done. Many people today will tell you that they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and they believe the Bible is His word, but those truths should be restricted to the Church House. To try to carry that into the realm of science, morality, entertainment, culture, etc… would be going too far. This is an interesting thing to consider.
The Example of the New Testament Church
What makes a church a Church of Christ (Romans 16:16) is not that some conclave of men recognizes them as such and their name is stamped with a seal of approval and put on record in a basement somewhere. It is not being able to “rattle the chain of church secession,” nor is it determined on following one or two core creedal beliefs, but rather what makes a church a Church of Christ is submission to the instruction of the Bible alone (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and the example the early Church provides for us. When we do things as they did them, in the manner in which they did them, we will be one of them. So we ask, what of the Church under Apostolic guidance? What was it’s world view? Did Paul and Peter teach that Christianity should be confined to the worship service, but left out of daily affairs? Let us consider our only source:
A Christian View of Science
As Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, surrounded by the greatest intellectual minds of his day, he did not hesitate to present a “Christian World View”. To these poly-theists, pantheists and atheists he declared, “God, who made the world and everything in it… is Lord of heaven and earth. He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:24-26) He further affirmed that man could be, and often was wrong in his scientific theory. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” (1 Tim. 6:20) Some might say, “well I want to know what Jesus Christ thought about science and religion, surely he did not seek to mix the two?” Quite the contrary, there was never a more outspoken defender of the miracles and wonders of God than Jesus Christ. Surely the scientific world of today would balk at the claims of a man to be the Son of God, to have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, to have control over the very forces of nature. The Lord convinced many of the great minds of His day, for example Luke, the gospel writer and author of the book of Acts was a physician, and held a “Christian View” of science.
A Christian View of Morality
It is interesting to see people trying to keep the Bible out of discussions on morality. Interesting I say, because there would be no concept of morality in human civilization and we would be but a raging chaotic race of cave men if not for the master work of God. Moral concepts that are realized without the scriptures are said to be “written in our hearts” by the hand of the Creator. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts.” (Romans 2:14-15). So we see that indeed even our most basic understanding of right and wrong comes from God, but we ask, “How do we now what is truly ‘good’?” Jesus gave us the answer, “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17). There is no good to be found in this world, but by the word of God. Furthermore, we note that in the scripture we have “the truth,” the absolute standard that settles all matters of faith and practice. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) The only fitting view of moral issues is a Christian view.
A Christian View of the Government
One area where we find a great deal of activity today is the attempted merger of Church and State, but as we look into the scripture, we will see that this goes against the “Christian View” of earthly politics. The church is not told to take an active role in the affairs of the state, aside from being submissive, inasmuch as God is primarily served, and being good citizens, but of the Church it is said that we should behave as “guests” in the kingdoms of this world. We are in the world, but not of the world (1 Jn. 4:4-6). We are strangers and pilgrims (1 Pet. 2:11). We are not to involve ourselves with the affairs of the world (Rom.13:12), nor are we to love the world (1 Jn. 2:15). When I see Christians who are more concerned for the state of the State than the condition of the Church I am greatly troubled. When I see God’s people busier seeing to the President’s business than the King’s business, enthused and invigorated to go out and campaign for a ne’er-do- well senator, but unwilling to lift a finger to proclaim the sinless Christ, that is disturbing indeed. We thank God for the civil authorities, they are a gift from Him. They are sinners that the Lord uses to do the things Christians could never do (enact vengeance, take up arms, etc…) unto our protection from other sinners. We are to obey the Laws of the land, whether we think them unjust or not, so long as we give to God first (Matt. 22:20-21), pay our taxes, not speak evil of those in power (Titus 3:1-2) and pray for them.
Indeed we can all agree that a “Christian World View” is essential to being a New Testament Christian and being a Member of the New Testament Church. CED
1 Corinthians 11 is indeed a very controversial text, but I do not believe that it should be. It is very straight forward in what is says and even closes with a reiteration that the teachings it offers ought not to be disputed. Let us notice what is being taught:
1. There is a sacred, absolute, divinely appointed (God ordained) order of authority in the universe. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) Here we have spiritual heads mentioned. God is Christ’s spiritual head, Christ in Man’s spiritual head and Man is Woman’s spiritual head.
2. “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” We find this is a very important issue that affect our prayer life and our relationship to Christ and God. Now here the topic of discussion changes from a spiritual head to a physical head. I believe that the physical head is representative of the spiritual head. Something about a woman praying with her physical head uncovered dishonors her spiritual head (Man, Christ and God). I believe the answer to what lies in verse 10.
3. 1 Corinthians 11:10 “For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (NKJV) The covering on a woman’s head is a symbol of her subjection to God’s order of authority. The terminology “because of the angels” has a rather frightening meaning. We understand that it is possible for angels to sin, and they have no forgiveness. The only sin that the Bible divulges that angles can commit is the sin of rebellion. “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6) When a woman removes her covering she commits the same sin of those angels in days of old “leaving her proper domain.”
4. The Apostle Paul defines what the “covering” of earlier verses is in vs. 15. “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” Her long hair is the covering that God has given her, and it is a glory to her, a symbol of her love and subjection to God and his ways.
Q. Is this scripture taking about a veil, or artificial covering?
A. The Apostle Paul says no. “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” The word for is from the Greek anti meaning in place of. Is a wonderful thing to consider: if a woman could not pray without an artificial covering it would put her in a lot of bad situations. The scripture nowhere restricts this to the assembly of the Church. If a woman is in a car accident and dying, unable to move, realizes that she needs to make her life right with God, she needn’t search around for a sheet to cover her head, if she has long hair she is covered with the covering God has given her.
Q. What does “long hair” mean?
A. We ought to let the Bible answer that question. Many today claim that if it is longer than a man’s (long in feet and inches) it is “long hair”. But the Bible says quite differently. In 1 Cor. 11:5-6, it says, “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.” There are three ways a person can wear there hair: 1) Shorn (cut or trimmed) 2) Shaven (Shaven bald) 3) Covered (Long). Notice also Ezekiel 44:20, “They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.” Three ways the hair can be worn: 1) Shave their heads 2) Keep it trimmed 3) Let it Grow Long. You see the parallel? This is the word of God! The term let the hair grow is clarified in the book of number where we read about the Nazarite vow, “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.” (Numbers 6:5) On top of all of this we find those who study such things inform us that the Greek word komao means literally “hair that is allowed to grow long; growth uninterrupted by cutting.” So we see that the Bible defines what long hair is, it is hair that is not shaven off, cut off or trimmed, hair that is touched by no razor, hair that is allowed to grow.
Q. What does Paul mean in Verse 16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”?
A. First we can see obviously what it does not mean. It is ridiculous to assume that Paul is here saying that if you don’t like what I just said you don’t have to listen to me. All scripture is God breathed” the Bible says, does God waste his breath! Such a notion is absolutely ridiculous, God didn’t put 15 verses into the Bible for space filler. Let us cast this foolishness aside and attempt to see what the scripture actually teaches here. Here is what John R. Rice had to say on this verse:
“On the matter of submitting to authority, there are frequently those who “seem to be contentious.” Self-will dies hard, even in a Christian. We want our own way. Some of the Christians who were servants and slaves thought that now they were Christians they need not obey their masters. And children felt that now they were saved, they were equal to their parents. Citizens felt that they now need not obey their heathen rulers, and wives naturally felt themselves equal to their husbands. Were they not saved just the same way? Were not all members of the body of Christ alike? But to such people the Lord plainly gave command as you see in Colossians 3:18-25, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, and elsewhere. No doubt some wives wanted now to cut their hair and act like men. And perhaps some men encouraged it. Some men do now. But to all such Paul said, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” No custom of bobbed hair was allowed for women in New Testament churches. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, who had more to do with founding churches and their control than any other man who lived, plainly said that this custom was never recognized and never allowed. Bobbed hair is unscriptural, and the idea of it was utterly repugnant to New Testament Christianity.” (Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers by John R. Rice; Sword of the Lord Publishers 1941©)
Some newer translations word it, “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” Let us not argue with God but submit wholly to his will in love and reverent service. CED
There are certainly those who will ask: why do we approve of innovations in material matters and oppose them in divine matters? Well the answer is very simple. There are two types of Innovations:
With the first we have no problem. Why? It is because such innovations do no alter or affect the holy commandments of God. Refrigerators are an innovation in the storage of food from the day of the New Testament Church, but it is not sinful to own one. God did not instruct us on how we were to store our food. 747 Airliners are an innovation in travel from the days of the Apostle Paul, so is it sinful for our preachers to use them to fly to foreign nations to do missionary work? No, God did not give divine instruction on how we are to travel, it is the same with using the television and Internet or sending out Bible Tracts, these are innovations in man’s arrangements not God’s. God has instructed us on how to teach the saved, and public bible classes were never a part of his plan.
Bible Classes: A liberty, or an Innovation?
Now many may say, “We understand why we must prevent ‘harmful’ innovations, but what would be wrong the Bible Classes they are strengthening the personal knowledge of Christians aren’t they?” Rather than answer this question with my own frail, fallible words, I will give an example found in the Word of God. Let us look at a story that is found in 1 Samuel 15:1-22. The gist of the incident goes like this: King Saul was commanded to go over to the land of Amalek and utterly destroy the people, and all they possessed. After reaching the land, Saul, instead of doing exactly as he was told, spared the best of the flocks and oxen, and even the King of the Land. Behind his action was a noble purpose; at least it would appear. But let us not forget that God commanded this man to do something, and regardless of the motives behind his actions he failed to do what God had commanded. Will he be held responsible? Let us see – “And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:20-22. In the eyes of Saul and the people, the thing they did by bringing back these fine animals and the King of the Land was doing an extra service for God. They took the liberty of expanding somewhat on what God had told them. But Samuel told him the finest oxen and sheep and the greatest riches in all the land were not as good as obedience. The same lesson applies today what we might see as a liberty that would seem to be beneficial to the mission of the Church, is in the eyes of God an innovation and corruption of His command.
Closing Comments on what is Wrong With Public Bible Classes
The wonderful thing about having the Word of God to guide us is that it is perfect, harmonious and clear. If followed exactly as it is written there will be no division, no controversy, and when there is it can only be due to mans foolishness of deceit. When Acts 20:20 is seen for what it is than we have a distinction, public and private. With public we have Worship Service and Evangelism which, according to 1 Cor. 13:44-45 and 2 Tim. 2:11-12, are times when women are forbidden to speak (the assembly) and teach or take an authoritative role (publicly). In the story of Pricilla and Aquilla studying with Apollos we see two men and one women talking together in private. In private a woman is authorized to teach a man. These lines and boundaries are very clear, but when a system alien to the scripture is placed in the picture the lines become distorted. When Public Bible classes are advocated one will be ready to stand and say “Lets have women teachers in these Bible classes.” How will you rebuke them with scripture? We have already determined that the Bible class cannot be classified as either of the two authorized methods of public teaching of the word, nor can it be classified as private. This means that you would not be able to rebuke them using the Word. The only way you would be able to, would be to admit that because of a lack of scriptural backing, the Bible Class system is unscriptural. Finally, in 1 Peter 4:11 there is a command to all Christians, a command that the early Restoration preachers knew had to be strictly followed if the will of God was to be done, it says “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” If we are to truly worship God in accordance with His will we must hold to what was said in that verse, when we speak we must “speak as the oracles of God.” “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is Silent” is recognized as an old Restoration plea. Examine the scriptures and see if they anywhere mention or authorize “public bible classes”, if not than please run “back to the Bible” and hold fast to the Ancient Order. –CED