And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
Is it arrogant to teach that we can and should come to a knowledge of the truth -- that we can and must understand the Scriptures (1 Tim. 2:3-4)? Jesus taught from the principle that we can understand the Scriptures when we read them (Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mk. 12:26). By reading and understanding the Scriptures one’s conduct can and should be impacted: “So when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Mk. 13:14; cf. Matt. 24:15).
If brethren are willing to apply the principle of reading and understanding the Scriptures to Daniel’s prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem, why not also be willing to apply the same principle of reading and understanding to what the Scriptures teach on the immorality of unauthorized divorce and remarriage (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:6, 9; Mk. 6:17-18; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Heb. 13:4)?
People were expected to read and understand the Scriptures to know about God’s prediction of Jerusalem’s fall. They could identify when that destruction was imminent and flee for safety. Such knowledge was not arrogance on their part. Likewise, through study of the Scriptures we can understand what constitutes adultery when remarriage occurs. We can identify the sin and our need to flee fornication (Matt. 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 6:18). To arrive at this understanding of truth is not arrogance. If we can understand “Daniel the prophet” we can understand Jesus the Christ.
We are willing to apply this principle of Bible understanding to God’s judgment of a wicked nation (Jerusalem) in Matthew 24. We must also be willing to apply this same principle to God’s judgment against fornicators and adulterers as taught in Matthew 19:9; Romans 7:2-3; Hebrews 13:4 and Ephesians 5:3-11. If we can understand God’s judgment against the one, we can also understand His judgment against the other.
There are other appeals issued by Christ and His apostles that require people to understand the Scriptures (see Lk. 24:45; Jno. 3:10; Acts 8:30-35; 28:26-27; Rom. 15:21; Col. 1:9; 2:2; 1 Jno. 5:20; and Rev. 13:18). When Christ calls us to understand truth He is not calling us to arrogance; He is calling us to humble ourselves before Him and His truth. We are not being arrogant when we proclaim the gospel call to understand God’s word. The gospel calls us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus by keeping His word in all things (1 Jno. 2:5-6).
Consenting to Sound Words
The Bible teaches us the humble person consents to the sound words of Jesus Christ: “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing...” (1 Tim. 6:3-4).
It is not arrogant to believe and teach there is “sound doctrine” to which we must adhere. Instead, such faith generates genuine humility. The person who holds such a faith humbles himself before Christ and the authority of His word. This principle is taught in Micah 6:8 and James 4:7-10 where the Holy Spirit says the humble person consents to the word of God (Jesus Christ) but the arrogant person refuses to do so. It is when we fully submit ourselves to Christ’s revealed word that we are practicing humility. One who refuses to do so arrogantly sets himself in opposition to God (Acts 5:39).
To submit oneself to Christ’s word necessarily implies an understanding of His word. One cannot obey that which he does not understand. Hence there is the need to “preach the gospel to the whole creation” to bring sinners to understanding, faith, obedience and salvation (Mk. 16:15-16). We can understand and obey Christ’s word on the plan of salvation. We can also understand and obey Christ’s word on the subject of divorce, remarriage, adultery and fellowship. If not, why not? We are persuaded we can and must consent to the words of Jesus Christ on every subject affecting life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3-4). Such consent implies we can understand what the Lord taught on “life and godliness” topics.
Inspiration and Understanding
Some appear to be appealing to the need for modern-day inspiration in order to assure a proper understanding of the word of God. A fellow Christian once said, “Unless we believe that we are inspired, we must be humble enough to give some lee-way in those areas that are ‘hard to understand’ (2 Pet. 3.16). If we had the apostles present to always tell us which positions are correct and which are not, then we could always have absolute certainty. But since we do not have them with us, we must rely on our own personal interpretations...”
If I didn’t know better I’d say some are making the Mormon case for a living prophet today! No, the apostles are not alive today, but we have the living word they left us (Heb. 4:12; 1 Ths. 2:13). It is astonishing that Christians are actually advocating the need for a living apostle before we can be certain about the truth. Our faith is not produced by the earthen vessels in whom the word of God was deposited (the apostles) but by the word they proclaimed (2 Cor. 4:7; Rom. 10:17). If we cannot be sure of what the apostles taught on one subject (e.g., marriage, divorce and remarriage), how can we be sure of what they taught on any subject?
Hebrews 1:1-2 assures us that God speaks to us in His Son. We can understand what God is saying to us by reading and studying the inspired words of the apostles. Why take an approach toward Bible understanding that flies in the face of this simple passage of Scripture (cf. Heb. 2:1-4; Jno. 13:20)? Evidently, some do not have ears to hear (Matt. 13:9, 18-23).
The inspired Scriptures complete us and thoroughly equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The suggestion that we are not able to properly understand the Scriptures undercuts the power of Scripture to teach, reprove, correct and instruct in righteousness. It implies God was unwilling or unable to give us a word we can study for understanding, obey in faith and preach with conviction (Eph. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 4:2).
Understanding the word of God should not make one conceited (Rom. 12:16). It will make one wise unto salvation and reliant on the power of God (2 Tim. 3:15; 2 Cor. 4:7; 1 Cor. 1:18-24). It is a false charge to cry “arrogance” against those who affirm we can know God’s truth on every subject that bears on our salvation from sin and fellowship with God (2 Pet. 1:2-4; Eph. 1:15-19). Why would a Christian plead for anything less?
Principles of Unity and Fellowship” (Revised)
Scripture Reading:Mark 16:1-7
centuries the accuracy of the Bible record of the bodily resurrection of
Jesus has been studied, debated, rejected and believed.
RESURRECTION OF CHRIST:
II. HIS RESURRECTION:
A. Is the
Foundation of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 15:3-5; Lk. 24:17-24; Matt. 16:18; Eph.
DECLARATIONS OF THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 43:7-12
1. The pattern
of truth has been revealed by God and we are to hold fast to it (Heb. 8:5; 2
I. TWO KINDS OF REVEALED AUTHORITY.
Authority is Inclusive in Nature, Rev. 22:19.
II. RECOGNIZING AND AVOIDING TWO EXTREMES ABOUT BIBLE AUTHORITY:
is Acceptable unless it is Specifically Condemned, Heb. 7:13-14; 1 Cor. 4:6.
Christ’s authority supporting it, all we say and do is sin, Col. 3:17. (cf.
More Baby-Boomers Divorcing
The divorce rate among US adults age 50 and older doubled between 1990-2009 (“The Gray Divorce Revolution: Rising Divorce among Middle-aged and Older Adults, 1990-2009”, National Center for Family & Marriage Research, Bowling Green State University). This has happened when the overall divorce rate in America has declined slightly. God ordained marriage to last a lifetime (He hates divorce), yet many do not hold these convictions (Matt. 19:4-6; Mal. 2:14).
Why are baby-boomers divorcing more often as they get older? For one, they are more comfortable with divorce; their generation welcomed it with open arms. Plus, statistics show second marriages are more likely to end in divorce. So, the cycle repeats itself.
Blogger Casey Dowd asked Karen Stewart, a divorce and relationship expert, why many marriages that have lasted 20, 30+ years are ending in divorce (FoxBusiness.com). The answers are instructive to those wishing to honor their marriages and help them thrive.
The lack of communication. Stewart said this is by far the most universal reason behind marriage break ups, regardless of the specific catalyst of the divorce. Lesson: work on your communication skills early and often in marriage. Without effective communication every relationship suffers, especially marriage (Jas. 1:19). Communication is inherent in companionship (which marriage is designed to fulfill, Gen. 2:18-24).
Marital infidelity. 50-70% of the time this is the specific reason for ending a marriage. The vow of exclusivity, once broken, is difficult to repair. Protect yourself and your marriage by keeping a pure heart and honorable conduct (Prov. 6:32-35; Heb. 13:4).
Financial flexibility. Baby boomers are more financially capable of divorcing, and many divorce over money. Add the factors of empty nests, restless mid-life crises and boredom, and trouble is sure to occur. Commitment, love and respect for one’s spouse are mandatory for successful marriages (Eph. 5:22-33).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/02/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA