In this sermon from 2009, evangelist Ronny Wade discusses how one person can have great influence on either good or evil.
In this sermon from 2009, evangelist Ronny Wade discusses how one person can have great influence on either good or evil.
This week we are debuting a new series of audio sermons by evangelist Carl Johnson. Brother Johnson has been an evangelist for 41 years and has been writing ‘The Back Page’ column for the OPA for nine years.
In January of 2003 Don King, the owner and publisher of the Old Paths Advocate, sent a message to the editors asking for suggestions for improving the journal. Carl suggested a better use of the back page by putting a brief article there that would deal with current events and historical perspectives. The article would be confined entirely to the back page (850 words), with no continuations on any other page in the journal.
Don and assistant publisher Ronny Wade welcomed the suggestion, as did most of the other editors, and the first installment was published in April of 2003. With the permission of the OPA these wonderful articles will now be recorded by Brother Johnson in audio form and presented weekly on the Christianlandmark. We hope you enjoy!
(by Ronny Wade, 4th of July Meeting 2009, Springfield, MO)
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
The Question was recently posed to me asking what the difference is between bible classes and a television program or tracts. How is one any more scriptural than the other? In the Early Church their were two basic methods of teaching the Word of God according to Acts 20:20 where Paul said, “I taught you publicly and from house to house,” meaning publicly and privately.In subgroups we have three examples of how God’s Word was taught.
1. Public Worship Service (Assembly)
2. Public Evangelism
3. Private Bible Study
In order for a method of teaching the Bible to be authorized by the Scripture it has to fall under one of these categories. When examining the three modern modes of teaching that are listed in the title we immediately can come to realization. A Bible tract or religious paper is not a worship service or a private Bible study, but it is a mode of public evangelism. The same could be said of the TV preaching program, but what of the Public Bible Class? Can it be classified under any of the three authorized sub-groups? Let us see:
Is a Public Bible Class a worship service? A worship service is composed of an assembly of the saints: praying, praising god in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and hearing the Word of God taught to them, and on the Lord’s Day, the observance of the Lord’s Supper and the giving of means is also part of the public service (Acts 20:7). It is important to point out that in the worship service it is: a shame for a woman to speak (1 Cor. 13:34-35), it is not to be divided (1 Cor. 11:20, 14:23), it is to be carried out with order and reverence, with one man speaking at a time (1 Cor. 14:31), and it is forbidden for a woman to teach or take an authoritative role (2 Tim. 2:11-12). Even supporters of Bible Classes will say that they are separate and different from the worship service, if this is the case then the first of the three sub groups can be checked off.
Is a Public Bible Class Public Evangelism? Aside from the Worship service, the Bible tells us that the Apostles practiced another form of public teaching that was separate and different. In Acts 14:1 the Bible tells us that Paul and Barnabas were at Iconium and went into “a synagogue of the Jews” where they preached the word to a multitude. This was not a worship service but rather Paul and Barnabas had gone into the realm of unbelievers to teach them the Word in order to convert them. This is what such things as TV Preachers and Bible Tracts can be classified as, not a worship service, not an assembly of the Saints, not a private Bible Study, but a method of Public Evangelism. A Public Bible Class cannot be called Public Evangelism because it is not an outreach to the world intended to convert, but rather a public Bible study of the Saints.
Is a Public Bible Class a Private Bible Study? This seems like a rather silly question, the two titles show the distinctive difference: Public and Private. Supporters of Bible Classes often use the story of Priscilla and Aquila to support their claim that the New Testament gives an example of Early Church members studying the Bible outside of the Worship service. Well that is very true, the Early Church would study the Bible publicly (worship service, public evangelism) and from house to house (private bible study). But in order for the story of Priscilla and Aquila to exemplify and authorize public bible classes, it would have to demonstrate a public bible class taking place. In Acts 18:24-28 the Bible tells of Priscilla and Aquila. In verses 24 and 25 the Bible says that there was a preacher named Apollos who was “an eloquent man and mighty in the scripture.” It says that he “taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.” So after he was finished preaching, the Bible says in verse26, “They took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Notice the words there, “they took him aside,” this indicates to me that it was a private discussion, or study, on the scriptures separate from the worship service. The key word there however is private.With that in mind we cannot justifiably classify Public Bible Classes under this category. What are we to do now? The only three scripturally authorized methods of teaching the Bible have been taken out of the picture and still the Public Bible Class has no home; this is because it cannot be found within God’s Word, and thus has no place within His Church. – CED
In the 28th Chapter of Isaiah we find a rather interesting, and at the same time, humorous picture painted by the words of the prophet. In verse 20 he writes, “For the bed is too short to stretch out on, And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.” It is kind of funny really to picture a man of some height and width, trying to position himself in a baby crib and cover up with a washcloth. It just wouldn’t work! The point illustrated is the devastating results of insufficiency. The same Isaiah later wrote, speaking for God, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9) It has been, since their very earliest days, that the thoughts, ways, and opinions of man have fallen far short of the perfect wisdom of God. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Jeremiah wrote, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (10:23)
We think back on the occasion when Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit and, realizing their nakedness, they were ashamed. The Bible records that they sewed for themselves some skimpy garments from fig leaves. Imagine it! It won’t take much imagination, I am sure they weren’t too far from many of the bathing suits and sports wear that people parade around in today, but the fact is, that in this state they considered themselves covered, without shame. God had a higher standard, when He saw the garments He saw them as insufficient, and we read that he slew two beasts and made for them a much more covering garment, causing them to be modest in the eyes of heaven. When one considers this, it is laughable to think that modesty, or any other sin for that matter, could conform to culture! This would place on a man’s shoulder a burden or responsibility he has never been able to handle: to define for himself what is sin and what isn’t. He will always on his own, fail miserably.
But we also find times when men have looked upon God’s plan and, failing to see the greatness set before them have viewed it as insufficient. We read of Abraham and Sarah in their promise to receive a son. God had taken the future Patriarch out into the desert and told him, “As many as the grains of sand that cover the desert floor, and the stars that spangle the heavens, too vast shall your progeny be.” What a great promise! But the years passed and Abraham, now 76 years old still had no son. Furthermore, Sarah, who was also advancing in years, believed herself to be barren. They distressed; they knew that God had great plans for them that involved a glorious bloodline, but things had run their course and obviously, God’s plan just hadn’t worked out! So they reasoned together that they would take matters into their own hands. Abraham, at Sarah’s behest, went to the handmaiden Hagar and knew her. The child that was conceived was called Ishmael. This boy should have never been born. He was the product of disregarding God’s ways, disobeying God’s wishes, and doubting God’s plan. His children and descendants for years after, of whom it was said, “He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him.” (Gen. 6:12) would have never been born. The murderous religion of Islam would have never been founded, and hundreds of wars would have never been waged, if only God’s plan had been followed.
Today there are many evils in the world, many departures from the faith, and divisions in the church have been the result of men trying to do things according to their own foolishness, or trying to do better than the ways of God. The Missionary Society came because people thought the Church was insufficient. The Sunday School came because people thought the home was insufficient. Now these Bible Study Classes (that the scriptures give no authority for) are finding their way into the Church, and causing the same terrible division, because people are claiming the public teaching in the assembly is insufficient! The Apostle Paul taught, “publicly and from house to house” when we leave the Bible pattern for something of our own design then weare using a bed too short, and a cover too narrow. The Lord gave a far less humorous picture of the devastating results of insufficiency, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:28-32) Let us not make the same mistake, but remember that “if God be for us, Who can be against us!” CED