Weekly Bulletin Articles
Most of us have likely heard one or more of the following statements: “I don’t believe in arguing the Bible;” “The truth doesn’t need defending;” “Debating is unchristian.” The devil couldn’t be more pleased with such statements —they contradict God and the Bible! Contrary to such thinking, Christians are obligated to think logically, to reason soundly, and to use logic and reasoning in defending the faith (Jude 3).
Paul states, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). To prove is to try, discern (Phil. 1:10), examine (Gal. 6:4), and put to the test (1 Cor. 11:28). The conclusion being that Christians are to prove, try and test what is heard regardless who the speaker might be. The Bereans were of this disposition, “searching the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). For this reason, “they were more noble than those in Thessalonica.”
Those who mix truth and error are consistently before us and we must ever be on guard. Subsequently, we must not only be studious, but questioning and testing what is said. Jesus warned, “Take heed what ye hear” (Mark 4:24). Our testing equipment in testing what we hear is the Bible. It is our measuring rod, our “yardstick” to determine correctness.
Peter exhorts, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer...” (1 Peter 3:15). The Greek word translated “give an answer” is a legal term used in court wherein the attorney talks his client off a charge levied against him [Wuest’s Word Studies, First Peter, p.89]. Since the Bible has no verbal defense except its believers, persons of faith must be its defenders. Therefore, Peter enjoins upon Christians the obligation to defend the faith in a verbal way —“give an answer.” The only restriction given is that it must be done with an attitude of “meekness” and “fear” in trusting God and His word rather than self.
God called upon Israel to “reason” (Isa. 1:18) and so Elijah debated the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:21). Religion needs to be constantly tested and tried as to its quality. In the cases of God and Israel, and Elijah and the false prophets of Baal, the genuineness of the two religions was tested and that which was not of God was shown to be vain and wanting.
One’s “Christianity” stands in its right to exist as the religion from God when it can be substantiated in faith and practice in light of Scripture. Children and servants of God are: 1) To not believe every speaker (1 John 4:1); 2) Not to succumb to a perverted Gospel (Gal. 1:6-9); 3) Beware of those who go onward and abide not in the Doctrine/Gospel of Christ (2 John 9- 11); 4) Mark them that cause divisions and occasions contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Rom. 16:17-18); 5) Contend (go to battle) for the faith once delivered (Jude 3); 6) Reason out of the Scriptures as Paul did at Athens and Ephesus (Acts 17:17; 19:8); 7) Expound more accurately to others the way of God as did Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26); and 8) like Paul, be “set for the defense of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:17).
Valid and sound argument is not wrangling or contentious dispute, but is the method of giving proof and evidence. By reasoning truth, we confirm Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God; the New Testament plan of salvation and worship; church polity, etc. We are confident in what we believe and practice because we have Scripture to witness to our intellectual hearts in the matter. Consequently, such confidence allows us to teach and preach with all boldness (Acts 4:29).
The Bible is God’s message of love and concern for mankind. It is also a story of mankind’s need of redemption. God created man in a state of purity, innocence and sinlessness. Adam and Eve were blessed to begin life in a perfect world —a veritable Paradise (cf. Rev. 2:7). The Creator wanted them to enjoy life as His special creatures made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Genesis 1:31 reveals that at the end of the Creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” This statement certainly included the first two human beings. They were “very good” because they were not yet marred by sin. As such, they were initially able to have unimpeded fellowship with God who made them. God created man to have fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3-7).
Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus, “All things were created by Him and for Him” (cf. Rev. 4:11). We were given life to please God! This only happens when we obey His will. Sadly, man’s earthly paradise was lost when sin entered the world (Gen. 3:6-19). Significant changes occurred as a result. Adam and Eve lost their innocence, sinlessness and close fellowship with God (Gen. 3:21-24). Death entered the world for the first time (Rom. 5:12). Though their disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit may seem trivial to many, God viewed their sin as a heinous crime. Before their transgression, the Lord had warned the first couple that the penalty for disobedience would be death (Gen. 2:17; 3:3). Did they die the day they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Yes, they did! They did not die physically — that would occur 930 years in the future (Gen. 5:5). But, Adam and his wife died spiritually that awful day when they broke God’s simple law.
In the Scriptures, death is a word that has the root meaning of separation —either of the spirit from the body (James 2:26) or of the soul from the presence of God which is also called the second death (2 Thess. 1:7-9; cf. Rev. 21:8). Sin transformed the first two souls who had been created as “very good,” into people who were now outcasts! They were no longer good people in God’s eyes. It was fitting they should be driven from the presence of the Lord (Gen. 3:24). God did not want them to remain in the Garden of Eden because they would have access to the tree of life and could eat of it and live (physically) forever. However, God, in His great love for man, was not willing for that to happen. He had much better plans in mind but this required a restoration of fellowship. He was willing to save man from his ruined condition.
Adam and Eve were originally good people for they were created that way. Almost 3,000 years ago Solomon observed: “God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29, schemes). The same sad story is repeated whenever sinless young souls make their first accountable decision to sin (cf. John 4:11; Heb. 5:13-14; Matt. 18:3). Sadly, when sin first touches a soul, that person ceases to be inherently good. This is not to say that the person cannot never do good again. However, just as with Adam and Eve, there is a need for sin to be forgiven in order for fellowship with God to be restored. As long as sin remains unforgiven, the guilt and potential for eternal punishment remains. Sadly, this fact is rarely appreciated by most people. During the Lord’s earthly ministry, Jesus taught that many will be lost when the Day of Judgment arrives (Luke 13:23-27; cf. Matt 7:21-23). Few will enter by the narrow gate that leads to life because few are seeking it (Matt. 7:13-14). Jesus promised that if a person seeks, he will find (Matt. 7:7-8). The reasonable conclusion from this teaching is that most people are lost, and will continue to be lost, and will ultimately perish as the ungodly and unrighteous souls they truly were. They will forever be known as sinners and enemies of our Lord (Rom. 5:6-10). Such are not “good people” in God’s sight regardless of how “good” man considers them to be.
Man and God often see the same thing in two very different ways. This is a very old problem. Samuel, the prophet and judge, declared concerning God, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7; cf. Acts 13:20).
Have you ever heard a person speak of another and say something like, “She was such a GOOD person!” Most of us probably have. Comments like this are often heard in eulogies at funerals. We need to remember that few people are truly “good” as God sees it because few people are right with God! You can be right with God by obeying the Gospel and living faithful the rest of your life (Acts 2:38).
Christians are named after Christ who is their leader. This name brings honor and glory to Christ and denotes one as a follower of Christ by adhering and conforming to His doctrine.
God foretells that He will "Call his servants by another name" (Isaiah 65:15). And, "The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name" (Isaiah 62:2). Here God foretells that He will give His people a new name after both Jews and Gentiles are involved. Also notice the Lord would give the name. By Acts chapter eleven the gospel had been preached to both Jew and Gentile and the church in Antioch was composed of both. In fulfillment of this prophesy we read "And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). "And in His name shall the Gentiles trust" (Matthew 12:21). It was the Lord who gave the name after the Gentiles began obeying the gospel.
After the apostle Paul had preached the gospel to King Agrippa , "Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’" (Acts 26:28). Almost is not good enough. When we wear the name Christian, we give glory and honor to our Lord. "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this manner"(1 Peter 4:16). We should never be ashamed to wear the
name Christian. Jesus says, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory" (Luke 9:26).
But there are those who must be ashamed of Christ since they will not wear His name, the name Christian. They wear the names that glorify other men or things such as John the Baptist, Martin Luther, the apostles, the methodical way of doing things, the community, Rome, the Day of Pentecost, etc. Even by their names they don't even claim to belong to Christ. Why would anyone want to wear a name that does not have God’s authority and approval? Denominations do not exist by the authority of God and are contrary to the doctrine of Christ (John 17:21).
The term Christian is used very loosely today. One is not a Christian just because he says he believes in Christ. "Even the devils believe and tremble" (James 2:19). Today every kind of church doctrine, tradition, and practice is labeled as "Christian". Even the United States is called a Christian Nation. This is a misnomer.
Christians are only those who have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38) so they can be saved (Mark 16:16). Then "The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). Only Christians are in the Lord’s church and have the promise of Heaven when this life is over (Ephesians 5:23). We should give glory and honor to Christ by wearing only the name Christian, which the Lord Himself gave for us to wear.
Change, any change, all change from the divine pattern is error. Error causes both its teacher and doer to be lost, no matter how sincere they may be. Jesus wants us to know the truth which makes us free from error (John 8:32). We must love the truth or suffer the consequences of believing a lie. Those who believe a lie will be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
The Bible always answers error because it is the all-inspired and all-sufficient Word of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim 3:16-17). Notice how verse 16 says that all Scripture is profitable for "doctrine" (teaching, showing what is wrong), for "reproof" (exposing, rebuking and convicting one for doing wrong), for "correction" (showing how to correct the wrong and reform one's ways) and "instruction" (showing how to continue in that which is right and training in the right way). The apostle Paul did not just write his own words. He said to the church at Corinth, "...the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). We read in 2 Peter 1:3, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." Everything we need to know how to live in this life and please God can be found in the New Testament. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
The Bible tells us to test those who are supposed to be teachers of the Gospel. The apostle John writes, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). A "Gospel preacher" is not offended when questioned about his belief, teaching and practice. He welcomes it. On the other hand, those who teach error are usually insulted and angered when questioned. This serves as a warning sign of those who are not sound in the faith. When you find one like this, beware!
The Bible tells us what to do with those who teach error. "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 1:9-11). Faithful Christians cannot help or assist those who teach error. We must not do anything that could be interpreted as supporting them in their error. When we do so, God counts us as guilty as if we were teaching that error ourselves. This is "guilt by association" i.e., we are counted guilty because we fellowship them. Too many refuse to see that their fellowship of those in error makes them guilty of error. The old addage that says "birds of a feather flock together" is certainly true.
Paul writes, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17-18). To "mark" means to observe -- turn attention toward. Brethren everywhere need to be made aware of those who are teaching error so they will not be "taken in" by their false doctrine. This, of necessity, involves "calling names." Those who teach contrary to the doctrine of Christ must be identified. It is impossible to do that without knowing who they are, that demands knowing their name. There are even occasions when we are to "mark" those who faithfully follow the Lord so we may imitate them (Phil. 3:17). However, that cannot be done without knowing who they are. Therefore, they must be identified by name. To not do so is a violation of Romans 16:17 and Philippians 3:17.
The Bible tells us the end result of those who teach error. They "...shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess 1:9). In Old Testament days, "...there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1). All false teachers, along with "...the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). Those who follow them will suffer the same destiny.
No one can change God's way and escape the consequences.