Our thanks to John C. Robertson, evangelist with the Northwest church of Christ, for compiling and publishing this material, and for allowing it to be republished here in its entirety.

 

- Sound Words -

December 2000 Issue  -  Volume 1, Issue 06

NORTHWEST CHURCH OF CHRIST

4610 Duval Rd. - Austin, TX   78727

(512) 345-7624


In This Issue:

The All Sufficient Word of God           John C. Robertson
The Revelation of God's Word                     Gailen Evans
Inspiration of the Scriptures                          David Lanius
An Overview of the Teachings of Christ            Joe Price
An Overview of Authority                               Keith Greer
God's Authority in Commands                           Jeff Smith
God's Authority in Examples                         Luis Zamora
God's Authority in Inference                   Micky Galloway
Can We Know the Truth?                                 Bill Reeves
Why I Truly Love God's Word                      Bob Dodson

THE ALL SUFFICIENT WORD OF GOD

John C. Robertson

"Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:31-32).

God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17). A truth that is sufficient to save man (Rom. 1:16). A truth that is sufficient to unify the saints on earth (I Jn. 1:1-7; I Cor. 1:10). A truth that is sufficient to give peace to its adherents (I Jn. 2:3). Truth, as used in Jn. 8:31, is defined by Thayer as "…respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians: the truth, which is the gospel or which the gospel presents" (Thayer pg. 26). The very definition of truth indicates that man has perverted God’s word in times past. We hear of our own brethren espousing ecumenical theories of fellowship and being party to ism(s) such as humanism, adiaphorism and syncretism. The very aim of said ism(s) is to make additions to God’s word. Comfort in worshipping God becomes the premium above truth and is defined as will worship. Brethren in Ephesus were trying their hand at this (I Tim. 1:3-4) as were those of Galatia (Gal. 1:6). God did not tolerate it then and neither should we be deceived into thinking God would accept will worship today (Col. 2:23).

No study known to man can be higher than the study of God’s truths. Truths that reveal the mind of God to man (Gal. 1:10-11). Truths that can be read, learned and submitted to in confident belief that it will be the standard by which mankind is judged (Jn. 12:47-50). Let us all study (II Tim. 2:15), and interpret correctly the pages of God’s word (Eph. 3:4). Submitting willingly to his authority and abiding in his words (II Jn. 9).

The theme for this month’s issue of Sound Words is dedicated to the subject of God’s word as it has been revealed to Jesus, his apostles and inspired men. I have invited nine gospel preachers to participate in this issue. I express my highest appreciation for their willingness to work at this project. Bible students of all levels are encouraged to read every article. It is my prayer that this work will help us all more fully appreciate the all-sufficient word of God.


THE REVELATION OF GOD'S WORD

Gailen Evans

 

Galatians 1:11,12 "11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Before we question any precept found in the pages of God's Word, we need to stop and think: "What would I say to this if God had spoken it to me directly?" This is a serious question given the lack of respect shown to God's Word today. In the Scripture cited above, Paul certified that the gospel, which he preached, did not have its origin in the mind of man. Though he did hear Stephen preach {Acts 7:59-8:1} and had personal contacts with Ananias and Barnabas {Acts 9:10-18,27}, he was in no way indebted to them for his knowledge of the gospel. Paul also affirmed that he did not receive the gospel by means of some course of instruction. The apostle received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

What did Paul mean by the phrase "revelation of Jesus Christ?" The term "revelation" as it is used in the Scriptures means "a disclosure, an uncovering," ..."unveiling something hidden, so that it may be seen and known for what it is.{ISBE} Thus we are to understand that what Paul preached was disclosed or made known to him by Jesus Christ. There could be no higher source than the One Who declared that "All authority in Heaven and on earth" had been given unto Him {Matthew 28:18}.

In Acts 1:8 Luke records Jesus saying to the apostles: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." This was the fulfillment of what He had promised them in John 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." and also in John 16:13-15 "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own {authority}, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (14) "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare {it} to you. (15) "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare {it} to you." Christ promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them into ALL TRUTH - and that the things He told them, would in fact come from the FATHER (i.e. God's Word)!

Although Paul was not with the other apostles when this promise was given, he identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ, and claims the same source for the gospel, which he preached. In Ephesians 3:3-5 Paul reminds them "how that by revelation {God} made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets." The knowledge which Paul had of the mystery of Christ was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, just as it had been revealed to the other apostles and prophets. Though he received no instruction from the other apostles, when he met them, his gospel agreed exactly with theirs. {Galatians 1:17-24}

It is the revelation of God's Word that lies at the base of understanding the authority, which resides in the written Word today. It is not authoritative because of its antiquity, but because of its origin. Paul commended the brethren in Thessalonica for the way in which they received the preaching of the Gospel. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 "13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." There can be no doubt that Paul believed his preaching to be the Word of God - and not "the word of men."
Whenever we are reading from the pages of the Bible, it is the voice of God that we are hearing. With this in mind, we need to approach the Bible with the same reverence due God. When the Law was found and it was opened upon the pulpit of wood by Ezra, we are told in Nehemiah 8:5 "...all the people stood up." This they did out of respect for the One Who gave the Law. Merely standing up, however, does not show all of the respect due that which comes from above. We must also set our hearts to do what God says. After the reading of the Law by Moses, he told them "Set your hearts on all the words, which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe-all the words of this law." {Deuteronomy 32:46} Ezra had the proper approach to God's Word. We are told in Ezra 7:10 that "...Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel."
Once again, when you are reading from the Bible and find something that you really don't like, stop and ask yourself: "What would I say to this if God had spoken it to me directly?" Would you try to reason what He said away? Would you try to pretend you didn't hear? Would you try to twist what He said in order to make it suit you? Be serious now! What would YOU do? In all honesty, you would probably be flat on your face in His presence, and willingly do anything He commanded of you without reservation or hesitation! The same should be true whenever we hear Him speak today through His Word, the Bible. We need to be ready to obey Him with the faith of Abraham, that caused him to offer up his only begotten son when God said DO IT! We need to obey Him with the persistence of Noah, who spent 120 years building an ark for a flood that God said would come - when there was no reason for anyone to believe that it would ever happen! We need to obey Him with the love that motivated David to say in Psalm 40:8 " I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."

Gailen Evans:  Ventura, California


INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES
David O. Lanius, Jr.

"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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
II Timothy 3:16-17

There are two words that are used in this text that give us an understanding of what the first century brethren thought when they read this passage. The first word is "Graphe," which means "writing," and the second word is "Theopneustos," which gives us the meaning "God-breathed." From the definition of these two words, we find that the writing, or the scriptures, are inspired, or "God-breathed." This inspiration comes from God to us that we might have the information that He wants us to have in reference to His will. It is reasonable that God would give directions for man, especially when you realize that He created him.

The book that we know as the Bible is the result of this revealed will of God. The term "BIBLE" comes from the Greek word "BIBLOS" with its plural form "BIBLIA." Our Modern English word comes from the Latin and Old French "BIBLIA" meaning "writings." The main purpose of this book is a history of God's people from the beginning to the end of time. Within this book we also learn of who God is, and His willingness to send His Son to save mankind (John 3:16-17). Our belief in God is derived from a study of this entire book (Romans 10:17). Our faith is not based on subjective reasoning but by a diligent effort to handle aright God's revealed word to man (II Timothy 2:15).

There are thousands who have tried and continue to try to discredit the Bible. They will spend hours trying to find contradictions. These atheists, skeptics and religious modernists can't get themselves to believe in anyone greater than their own self.

How can we go about proving that the Bible is the inspired word of God? Please keep in mind that there is no middle ground upon which we can stand. Some would say, "Well the Bible contains the words of God." Others will say, "Well, parts of the Bible are inspired" but then turn around and debate the issue. What are the choices? God spoke His will to man, or man fabricated what he wants to call God's will. There are no other choices that I can see.

Allowing the Bible to defend itself:

The Bible claims for itself to be the word of God by using such phrases as "thus says the Lord", "God spoke", "the Lord testified, saying," and "the Lord said." Over 1000 times these phrases can be found in Scripture.

There are abundant evidences for the inspiration of the Bible, which are both internal and external. Let us consider the internal evidences.

The very nature of inspiration:

The very nature of inspiration is stated in such places as II Peter 1:21; Matthew 10:19-20; 1 Cor 2:13. In these verses we find that the Holy Spirit guided these writers both in what to say and how to say it. The Holy Spirit would reveal divine truth (John 14:26; 15:25; 16:12-13) to these men and at the same time confirm that Jesus is the Christ, God's Son. Inspiration allowed each man to manifest his own personality with his particular style of writing.

The unity of teaching:

There are sixty-six books in the Bible, and they were written at different times and in different locations by many inspired men, yet there is unity in the message. Though roughly 40 men, from different nationalities, composed the Bible in three different languages, contradictions do not exist, except in the minds of modernists, atheists and skeptics. There can only be one reason for such unity. It came from one source, God (I Cor. 2:10-13).

Fulfilled prophecies:

Peter tells us that "holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21). Many of the prophecies spoke of events years before they happened.

The greatest of all fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament are those dealing with the Messiah. The gospels indicate that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies made 500 to 1500 years before He came to the earth. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, His birthplace was foretold (Micah 5:2 - Matthew 2:1). Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, Isaiah said that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 - Matthew 1:23). Five hundred years before His birth, Isaiah told of the reception he would be given (Isaiah 53). One thousand years before He was born, the Psalmist told of His pierced hands (Psalms 22:16 - Matthew 27:35).

These are only a few of the over three hundred fulfilled prophecies about Jesus that proves the Bible to be of Divine origin. No man or group of men could have uttered such prophecies without the help of God.

Historical accuracy:

Many in times past have laughed at what they call the historical inaccuracy of the Bible. But thanks to the hard work of many, these skeptics, religious modernists, and atheists laugh no longer. Notice a couple of examples:

Historians laughed when they read in the Bible about the Hittites (Genesis 10:15). They said that no such people ever existed. In 1876, the Bible was proven true when George Smith found their capital city.

In Genesis 40:10,11 the Bible indicated that there were grapes in Egypt. The ancient historian Herodates denied this. However, paintings discovered on the ancient Egyptian tombs show the dressing, pressing and cultivating of grapes.

Scientific accuracy:

The Bible contains no scientific fallacies of any sort. It is not a scientific textbook, its main interest is religious; but the Bible does touch on many aspects of science.

Consider one notable scientist's theory. Herbert Spenser, 1820-1903, said that there were five "manifestations of the unknowable," these being, time, force, action, space, and matter. Now consider Genesis 1:1 and learn, "In the beginning" - Time; "God" - Force; "created" - Action; "the heavens" - Space; "the earth" - Matter. There are many other scientific truths revealed
in the Bible, none of which have been discredited, least of all, the Genesis account of creation!

Meets the spiritual needs of man:

There is within man a strong need for God; the God described in the Bible. The Bible reveals God and man's need for Him. David Curtis wrote, "Where the Bible is widely circulated and read there is a high level of morality; where it is little studied the standard of morality is low; where it is almost unknown, as in heathen and uncivilized countries, the morality is at its lowest and illiteracy at its highest."

The word of God helps us in all areas of our lives. Indeed, the Bible, "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We can come to this conclusion about the Bible, being inspired: "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past by the prophets, has in these last days spoke to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heirs of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;" (Hebrews 1:1-2). "For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (II Peter1:21).

The Bible is not a book that has grown old with the times, but is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Times and customs may change, but the needs of man remains the same. Man is a lost sinner in need of salvation from above. An unknown author has written the following:

The Treasure-house of God's Word:

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good its sign, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.

David O. Lanius:  Houston, Texas


AN OVERVIEW OF THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST

(2 John 9)

Joe R. Price

 

Introduction

A disciple is a "learner" or "pupil." The objective of disciple is to so train under the instruction and guidance of His master that he will become as his teacher. A disciple learns so that he may live under the approval of his master. Jesus said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." (Lk. 6:40) The Christian's goal, then, is to learn and live the teachings of Christ so that he may be like Jesus in his thinking and conduct.

Another word for teaching is "doctrine" (didache, "teaching, that which is taught", Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Thayer, 144). To say that the "doctrine of Christ" is secondary and not as important to one's salvation as Christ is to say that the "teaching of Christ" is secondary and not as important to one's salvation as Christ. But, how can we know Christ except through His teachings? (Jno. 8:31-32)

The teachings of Christ are revealed and available to us in His New Testament. If we dare to reject Christ, His words will surely judge us in the last day (Jno. 12:48). Conversely, we if "abide in the doctrine of Christ" we will enjoy fellowship with Him, now and eternally (2 Jno. 9; cf. Jno. 14:21, 23-24).

The teachings of Christ contain the authority of Christ and train Christians to so live that their "life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). Christ will not be in the Christian's life if the Christian does not let the word of Christ richly dwell within him (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:16). When Christ's word dwells in the Christian he is well equipped to obey Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

In this lesson we will examine the meaning of "the doctrine of Christ" within the context of 2 John 9 as well as its broader context (the entire New Testament).

 

2 JOHN 9 AND "THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST"

"Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.  He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9)

 

I. WHAT IS "THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST" IN 2 JOHN 9?
  A. At Least Three Views Of "The Doctrine Of Christ" Are Presently Being Expressed Among Brethren.
    1. The teaching about Christ (His nature).
    2. The teaching which was done by Christ and His apostles, but only that teaching which is fundamental and clear.
      -(This view can be summarily eliminated due to its subjective plea for "clarity" as the basis for determining the doctrine of Christ. Also, in the absence of any scriptural pattern for such a definition this view must be rejected. It is the "core gospel" plea of the new hermeneutics which rejects Biblical patterns as our means of establishing and applying Bible authority.)
    3. The entire body of gospel teaching, the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
    4. The Bible gives abundant evidence that "the doctrine of Christ" is the teaching given by Christ and His apostles.

  B. The "Doctrine Of Christ" In 2 John 9 Is The Entire Body Of What Christ Taught, Personally And Through His Apostles.
    1. Abide - "in reference to state or condition…to remain as one, not to become another or different." (Thayer, 399)
    2. In - "a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state)." (Ibid., 209-212)
    3. Doctrine - "teaching…that which is taught…doctrine, teaching, concerning something." (Ibid., 144)
    4. Of - Conveys possession (genitive case).
    5. Christ - Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16).
      a. By Him God has spoken to us in these last days (Heb. 1:1-2).
      b. By Holy Spirit inspired apostles and prophets we have had Christ's teachings communicated to us (cf. Jno. 16:12-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 1 Cor. 14:37).
    6. The doctrine of Christ is His gospel, the New Testament.

  C. NT Usage Of "The Doctrine Of" Indicates Its Meaning In 2 John 9.
    1. The doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:6, 12) - Jesus was referring to the teaching of these sects, not teaching about those sects.
    2. The apostles' doctrine (Acts 2:42) - This is none other than the teaching which the apostles made know (the gospel, Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:20), not teaching about the apostles.
    3. The doctrines of men (Col. 2:22; Matt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7) - These are the teachings of men, not teachings about man.
    4. The doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1) - Does that mean men would fall away due to giving heed to teachings about demons, or due to giving heed to doctrines taught by demons? (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 1 Jno. 4:1)
    5. The doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14) was what he taught: "who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel…", not teaching about Balaam.
    6. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:15) - Was this the teaching about the Nicolaitans, or the teaching which the Nicolaitans were doing?
    7. The doctrine of Christ in 2 John 9 is a general reference to the doctrine, which comes from Christ. It is not limited to teaching about His nature.

  D. The Teaching Of Christ Is Said To Be "His Teaching," Not The Teaching About Him.
    1. Matt. 7:28-29 - The people were astonished at His teaching.
      a. Lk. 4:32 - "And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority." It was His word and its authority, which astonished them.
      b. Mk. 11:18 - "…all the people were astonished at His teaching."
    2. So, it was what Jesus taught which astonished the people, and that included much, much more than teaching about who He was -- it encompasses all that He taught!

  E. The Context Of 2 John Supports This Meaning Of "The Doctrine Of Christ."
    1. The doctrine of Christ is "the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever" (2 John 1-2). We must choose to abide in the doctrine of Christ, which will be with us forever.
      a. Do we only abide in teaching about the nature of Christ (who He was, etc.)?
      b. We must abide in all the word of Christ to truly be His disciple (Jno. 8:31).
    2. The doctrine of Christ is the truth in which we are to be "walking" (2 John 4).
    3. The doctrine of Christ is the "commandment" we have received from the Father (2 John 5). (cf. John 12:48-50)
    4. The doctrine of Christ contains the "commandments" in which we are to walk, which is love. (cf. Jno. 13:34-35)

  F. When The Christian Abides (Remains) In "The Doctrine Of Christ," He Abides In:
    1. The word of Christ (Jno. 8:31-32).
    2. Jesus (1 Jno. 2:5-6, 3; Jno. 15:4).
    3. Christ's love, by keeping His commandments (Jno. 15:9-10).
    4. The light (1 Jno. 2:10).
    5. The Son, by letting the gospel abide in him (1 Jno. 2:24, 28).
    6. Christ, by keeping His commandments (1 Jno. 3:24).
    7. The truth (2 Jno. 1-2).
    8. His commandments (2 Jno. 6).

  G. The Gospel Which The Apostles Preached Is "The Doctrine Of Christ."
    1. All truth (the doctrine of Christ) was revealed to the apostles of Christ (Jno. 16:12-13).
    2. The apostles were inspired to preach the doctrine of Christ (1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
    3. The apostolic teaching is the doctrine of Christ (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Thess. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:13).

II. ARE WE LIMITED IN OUR APPLICATION OF 2 JOHN 9-11 TO THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT?
Since John is addressing the false doctrine that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh (v. 7), some conclude that is the only application of 2 John 9.
Consider these words of W. L. Wharton on this matter:

2 John 9 is a specific problem. Any specific denial that Christ is come in the flesh is a denial of the Lord's teaching. But not all failing to 'abide in the teaching' is a specific denial that the Lord is come in the flesh. There are many such verses. Revelation 22:18, 19 contains prohibition and penalty against adding to or taking from the words of that prophecy. That is pretty specific! Is it wrong to take those verses and apply them to a tampering with any other book in the scripture?

....Granting the existence of 'general authority' we must keep in mind that 'specifics' are readily governed by the mention of the 'generic' to which they attach. While specifics are governed by generics, the rule does not admit of reversal so that specifics govern generics.

Of course, 'denial that Christ is come in the flesh' (a specific error) is condemned by 2 John 9 because it is not 'abiding in the doctrine of Christ' (generic). But the denial is not the whole; rather the whole encompasses the denial.

While 2 John 9 applies to those who denied the fleshly advent, the error is saying the verse teaches no more than it is applied to. The real issue over 2 John 9 lies not in the field of its grammar or even its context, but rather in an over reaching of its teaching to make what is general (the doctrine of Christ) mean nothing more than 'denial of Christ coming in the flesh.' While 'doctrine of Christ' is not applied in this text to anything else, it does not follow on that account that it therefore means nothing else.

To say that 2 John 9 means nothing more than denial of the fleshly advent is not exegesis but perversion!

To say that it applies to nothing more in the text, adds no knowledge or help to anyone and is, at best, pointless. At worst, it is a sop held out to the rising tide of the 'let's fellowship everybody' element who are saying that its application is limited to the specific of the text. Armed with that, they are ready to join up with 'the mechanical instruments of music in the worship' and 'brethren in prospect' contenders. (The Preceptor Magazine, date, volume unknown; cited by Larry Ray Hafley, Watchman Magazine, July 1998).

Robert Turner succinctly states the truth on this matter:

"It seems to me that both context and N.T. usage require 2 Jn. 9 to refer to that which Christ taught, personally and through His apostles. John warns of a particular error (that Christ had not come in the flesh) but this does not negate a more general application of the principle given. In 1 Jn. 4:2 are we to understand that the only test for determining those 'of God' is the confession that He is come in the flesh? Or is this simply one example (currently needed) of a broad principle? (Note. v. 6). Do all that say Jesus is Lord, have a 'spiritual gift'? (1 Cor. 12:3). See Deut. 13:2 for O.T. example of citing a specific error to teach a general principle." (Original citation unknown, cited by Larry Ray Hafley, Watchman Magazine, July 1998)

 

III. THE CHRISTIAN'S RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST.
  A. The Christian Must Not Go Beyond The Teaching Of Christ - 2 John 9.
    1. We sin when we transgress the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 9).
    2. Sin separates us from God. Therefore, when one goes beyond the doctrine of Christ his sin causes him to not have fellowship with God (cf. Gal. 1:6-9).
    3. If we sin against the doctrine of Christ by adding to it or take away from it we incur divine wrath and punishment (Rev. 22:18-19; 1 Cor. 4:6).

  B. The Christian Is To Abide In The Doctrine Of Christ - 2 John 9.
    1. We abide in the doctrine of Christ by keeping the word of Christ (Jno. 14:23). Jesus said if we do not keep His words (His teachings) we do not love Him (Jno. 14:24).
    2. By practicing the truth, one walks in the light and has fellowship with God (1 Jno. 1:6-7).
    3. By keeping His commandments the truth is in us, we are in Christ, and we have real assurance of fellowship with God (1 Jno. 2:3-6; 3:24)

  C. The Christian Is Not To Extend Fellowship To One Who Does Not Abide In The Doctrine Of Christ - 2 Jno. 10-11 (cf. Eph. 5:3-11; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
    1. To extend and maintain fellowship with one who teaches and/or practices error and
sin is a clear violation of 2 John 10-11. It causes one to have fellowship with evil.
    2. We are to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Eph. 5:11).
    3. We are to remain separate and distinct from the sin and error of the world (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).

D. The Christian Should Extend Fellowship To Everyone Who Teaches And Abides In The Gospel - Gal. 2:7-9; cf. 3 Jno. 5-8.

 

IV. PARALLEL THOUGHTS CONFIRM THAT "THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST" IN 2 JOHN 9 IS THE TEACHING, WHICH COMES FROM CHRIST.

-2 John 9 says "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." Now, see the common thread of thought in these additional NT passages:

"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, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (1 Tim. 6:3-5)

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (Jno. 14:21, 23)

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you…If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (Jno. 15:7, 10)

"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak." (Jno. 12:48-50)

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:20)

"Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." (Rom. 16:17)

Conclusion

We can be united in our understanding, teaching and application of 2 John 9. Diligent study of God's word, proper attitudes of heart and an unwavering commitment to obey the word of Christ in all things will bring us to the unity for which Jesus prayed (Jno. 17:20-21; cf. 2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 4:1-3; Jno. 8:31-32). The following words of brother Hafley appropriately challenge us to choose to remain in "the doctrine of Christ" and truly be disciples of Christ.

Those who cringe and apologize for the truth when it is preached and who disclaim and despise those who teach the doctrine of the Lord are not friends of Christ (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:14-16). They who defend the integrity of those who teach error while they use every veiled and hidden slur against those who oppose error are not loyal to the Lord. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:8). Choose now, as Moses did, to suffer affliction with the people of God, for the gospel's sake. It is not human loyalty, the friendship of the world, but it is love for the doctrine of the Lord and the support of faithful saints that will be rewarded in that last, great day (Phil. 1:5-7; Heb. 6:10-12). So give our God your hearts and your hands, O, ye of Israel who love his law and delight in his doctrine! (Watchman Magazine, July 1998)

Joe Price:  Bellingham, Washington


AN OVERVIEW OF AUTHORITY

Keith Greer

In every realm of life, we recognize the need for authority. This need is evident in the home, at school, in business, and in the government's affairs. Surely, we all recognize the need for religious authority.

A person acts with authority either because he has jurisdiction, or because he receives orders or instructions from one who has legal, rightful power. We must recognize the need for authority and respect that authority once it is established.

The Need for Divine Authority in the Religious Realm
     The chief priests and the elders of the Jews recognized the need for authority (Matthew 21:23-27). They asked Jesus: "...By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?" (Mt.21:23) These questions illustrate their recognition of two things:
   1. The need for authority.
   2. That such authority must come from one who has the right and power to grant it. They asked: "who gave you this authority?"

Jesus answered with a question: "The baptism of John; where was it from? From heaven or from men?" (Matthew 21:25) His answer shows that there are only two sources of authority:  Heaven and Men--Divine and Human.

Some deny the necessity of having God's authority for everything we practice religiously. Those who have such an attitude either:
   1. Look to themselves for authority (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs14:12), or
   2. Look to other men for authority (Matthew 15:8,9).

No scriptural authority exists for many of their inaugurated practices, and they cry aloud: "We do not need scriptural authority for everything we do." Those who scorn the need for divine authority overlook a basic Bible principle and, in so doing, flirt with danger. We may act without authority from God, but we cannot do so with God's approval and fellowship (2 John 9-11)!

Throughout the Bible, we see exhibited the need to respect authority, and examples of what happened when such was not the case. Following are three:
   1. Adam and Eve (Genesis 2,3);
   2. Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-5);
   3. Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1,2).

In each instance, failure to follow God's commands led to severe consequences.

King Saul did not submit to God's authority when he chose not to utterly destroy the Amalekites, but to bring back King Agag and the best of the livestock to sacrifice to the Lord (1 Samuel 15). We cannot help noticing that King Saul's apparently good intentions--to offer sacrifices to God--made no difference to God (Isaiah 5:20; Romans 3:20).

King Uzziah acted without divine authority when he entered the temple to burn incense to the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:16-30; Ezekiel 30:1-10). Burning incense was a good work, authorized by God, but Azariah the priest said: "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord." Divine authority dictated that only the priests could burn incense. When Uzziah turned his back on divine authority, he became his own source of authority. He was wrong.

Jesus recognized and taught the need for divine authority. He promised to reject those who work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23). Iniquity means lawlessness (NASB). To work lawlessness is to work without authority. Workers of iniquity will be gathered out of the kingdom (Matthew 13:41,42).

Look at our Lord's teaching in the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). The Wise man hears and DOES the will of the Lord (James 1:22-25). He acts as the Lord authorizes (1 Corinthians 4:6). The Foolish man hears but DOES NOT obey. He may call Jesus "Lord, Lord," but he refuses to do what Jesus authorized (Luke 6:46; Matthew 19:16-22).

The apostles taught the need for divine authority. They appealed for unity (1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 3:16). Unity cannot be had unless we abide by the same rule and speak the same things. To do this, we must recognize and accept an authority standard that governs us (Ephesians 4:1-3).

   1. Illustrate: Merchants practice unity when they weigh and measure because they all accept the same rule as their authority.
   2. Illustrate: All postal clerks follow the same rule. All packages of the same weight go for the same cost. There's one standard.

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Colossians 3:17) In this text, "in the name of" means "by the authority of." Only when they act in the name of Christ do men act with authority that pleases the Father. While here, Jesus prepared the apostles to continue His teaching on man's need to abide in the truth-God's only standard in religion (John 8:31,32; 17:17).

Sources From Which We Do Not Get Authority
   1. Old Testament doctrines and practices. Many, failing to realize this, appeal to the Old Testament for authority today. The following religious practices are evidence of this problem:
     a. Tithing as the law of giving (Leviticus 27:30).
     b. Instrumental music in worship (Psalms 150).
     c. Infant membership in the church (Hebrews 8:11).
     d. Polygamy as practiced by the Mormons (Matthew 19:1-9).
     e. Keeping the ten commandments (Exodus 20).

Those who do these things fail to recognize that the Old Testament system was only a shadow (Hebrews 10:1) that Christ removed when He died on the cross (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:14-16).

   2. What the preacher says. Many regard the preacher's word as authority in religion (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 2:4,5; 4:6). Lazy church members who are unwilling to study expect the preacher to study for them (Acts 17:11). One of the most ridiculous spectacles in the religious realm is the diversity in doctrines espoused by God-called preachers. Did God call each of them to teach a different doctrine (Galatians 1:6-9). Preachers are to preach THE WORD (2 Timothy 4:1,2), not their own word (Titus 2:15). The Bible is enough; it is all-sufficient (2 Tim.3:16,17; 2 Pet.1:3).

   3. Men's creeds. Nearly every denomination has its own manual, discipline, prayer book, or book of minutes that contains doctrines and procedures for organizing that denomination. We cannot please God by accepting men's creeds (Matthew 15:8,9; Colossians 2:20-22; Galatians 1:6-9). If God's book is His mind revealed to man; and if He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-wise, how could man write anything superior to His?

   4. The congregation's desires. Some religious organizations take pride in being democratic, determining their policies by majority vote. The congregation's wishes may not be right in God's sight! Look at some examples from the pages of God's book:
     a. Israel wanted other gods to go before them (Exodus 32).
     b. Israel wanted a king (1 Samuel 8:1-19).
     c. King Saul wanted to do his own thing; then, when called to account for his disobedience, he blamed the people (1 Samuel 15:15,24).
     d. The people loved the words of the false prophets (Jeremiah 5:30,31).

5. The results accomplished. If a work is a good work, or if it brings big results, that is insufficient authority for its existence. We cannot assume that the "end justifies the means." In religious matters, the end, good or bad, does not qualify a work as acceptable to God. A perfect example is David and the cart (1 Chronicles 15:1-14). It was an incorrect mode of transport for the ark. The ark moved, but in the process, Uzzah lost his life. God told them to carry the ark, not to place it on a cart and have oxen pull it! God takes no pleasure in our accomplishments, if He has not authorized what we do. Such thinking shows lack of respect for God's authority.

Our Only Source of Divine Authority - The New Testament
     Jesus Christ is the source of authority. He is God's ordained spokesman (Matthew 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1,2). God requires that we hear Him, and only Him (Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Acts 3:22,23). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). This authority was given to Him by the Father in heaven, who has rightful power, and who put all things, except Himself, under Him (1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:27; Ephesians 1:20-23). He is head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18). As members of a physical body are subject to the head's direction, so must the body be subject to Christ.
Christ is the head of the body. Christians are members of that body and must work in harmony, as directed by the head (1 Corinthians 12:12,13). The church is His bride. As the husband is the head of the wife, and she is subject to him, so the church is to be subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:23,24).

The New Testament is God's message to men in this dispensation. The apostles and other inspired men wrote the truth as it was revealed to them (Ephesians 3:1-4). Their writings are the New Testament.
   It is a divine message, the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
   It is a complete message (John 16:13; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:3).
   It is God's final message to His creation (Jude 3).
   It is the message of salvation (Romans 1:16; James 1:21).
   It is an understandable message (Ephesians 3:1-3; 5:17).

     We must be led by the apostles' teaching (Galatians 1:8,9). Everything we teach, practice, and do must be authorized in the New Testament. Look for BOOK, CHAPTER, & VERSE for what you believe and practice? Do you know, where it is, and are you certain? If what I'm doing cannot be found in the pages of God's word, then I'm not walking according to His Divine Authority! Could we be walking according to man's authority?

As God's people, what must we do when issues arise and threaten to divide us? One thing, even worse than division, is unity with error. Should we ignore the issues, wait to see where the majority stands (which way the wind blows), decide on the basis of what good and great men have said, or do what we have always done? None of these solutions is workable because all are wrong. Let's get back to doing things in Bible ways and calling things by Bible names. What about A THUS SAITH THE LORD. Isn't that the better way? To be honest, it's the ONLY WAY to please God! We must obey the following rules:
   Respect the authority of the Scriptures (1 Peter 4:11).
   Believe that scripture can be understood (Ephesians 5:17).
   Handle aright the word of life (2 Timothy.2:15).
   Resolve to follow whatever course truth demands (Proverbs 23:23).
   Stand for truth without bitterness (Matthew 5:43-46).
   Prove all things; hold fast to that which is right (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

The honest hearer seeks to do these things to please God, not men! ***

Keith Greer: Beavercreek, Ohio


THE DIRECT COMMAND

Jeff S. Smith

The divine use of direct commands is by far the simplest means of establishing and understanding authority in the spiritual realm.

Whether stated positively by a "Thou shalt," or negatively by a "Thou shalt not," the direct command is difficult to misinterpret without the aid of lawyering and a not-so-hidden agenda of circumventing the divine mandate.

God used the direct command in his communication with Adam and Eve, telling the couple to tend the garden and enjoy the fruit of every tree they find, save for that of the tree of knowledge. Thus they had both positive and negative commands--"Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots." The tempter, however, also understood the nature of direct commands and the enticement of rebellion. He simply convinced Eve that there would be no consequence to disobedience and she felt free to overturn God's direct command. She discovered, as all today will also, that grave consequences await those who rebel against God's commands, for transgression is sin (1 John 3:4) and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

The simplicity of direct commands makes them eminently understandable. Man's challenge, then is not comprehension, but conformity and curiosity. Satan is able to make transgression seem pleasant, harmless and even worthwhile until clear commands become hazy in our weakened estimation.

Moses was given ten commandments, of course. Only two of them are stated positively, but these two gave the Jews of Christ's day the most trouble. They were to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy, but had corrupted it through their traditions and hedges. They were to honor their parents, but had discovered what they considered a loophole even in this through the Corban dodge. And so Jesus condemned them, saying "These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8-9).

Again, man's challenge when it comes to Bible commands is generally not comprehension, but conformity. We understand well enough and that is the problem. We would prefer a little confusion that might allow us some wiggle room now and then.

The New Testament commands singing in praise to God (Col. 3:16), but many would also like to play and thus create confusion from clarity to allow them to teach as doctrines the commandments of the creeds.

The New Testament prohibits forsaking the assembling of the saints (Heb. 10:24- 25), but some like their vacations from the Lord and go about creating justifying loopholes. It is the modern day Corban to claim one cannot give to the Lord for the day is already dedicated to the kids' Little League or the night is consumed with this board meeting or that cherished recreation. The command is clear, but our consciences are not.

Recently, the Baptists skirmished over a wife's submission to her husband. But it is very plain in God's word: "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord"(Col. 3:18). The command is clear and that is what some hate about it. Don't blame God if you don't get. The trouble was that you did not want it.

Paul predicted a strong delusion would descend upon those who did not have a love for truth but found pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:11-12). The only way to explain how some can feel justified while trampling on God's Holy Writ is to attribute it to a lack of love for truth and the strong delusion that always follows a pattern of indulgence and willful rebellion.
Some would cast doubt upon the concept of law within Christ's testament, arguing that it is a love letter, but not a legal code. Yet, the Holy Spirit extols the New Testament as the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) and the law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2). It contains ordinances, promises of reward and warnings of punishment. It cannot be transgressed or disregarded with immunity. The New Testament is as much law as the Old, only with the element of grace factored in. The grace, however, extends only the genuinely penitent, not the willfully
rebellious (Heb. 10:26- 31).

The attitude of a humble servant toward God's commands will presuppose glad submission (1 John 5:3). He will not think that his obedience can put God in his debt, but that trust and discipleship require one to be a follower. There will be no attempt to overthrow or ignore God's commands, whether they are positive or negative. Commands will be simple, black and white.

J. S. Smith: Ft. Worth, Texas


AUTHORITY BY EXAMPLE

By Luis Zamora

God requires that we have His authority for everything we do and say, especially as it pertains to His church. He has never left us without law or Himself without witness, and this fact necessitates divine authority for religious action. From the example of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-3 to the words of Christ in Matthew 15:9, the Bible makes abundantly clear that God requires strict adherence to His law and His words over those of men.

One way in which to determine divine authority is by example. Why example? Simply put, we sometimes have no other options. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God has given us, "all things that pertain to life and godliness…." We must be able to turn to God's word in order to learn what is right. And as a matter of fact, we can only turn to God's word to determine what is right! This idea is borne out by 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we want to learn what is right, we have no choice but to go to the Scriptures. And if the Scriptures contain no direct commands or require no inferences regarding a matter, we must search for examples. There simply is no other way to go about it.

The Scriptures further demonstrate our dependence upon them and upon example in that we find in Colossians 2:8 a prohibition of traditions but in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 a command to keep them. So there are some traditions (or examples) we must keep, and some we must not keep. How does one know the difference? 2 Peter 1:19 says that the apostles have the prophetic word we should heed. The passages above say as much themselves: The prohibition is not on traditions but rather on human traditions, and the commandment to keep the traditions is a command to keep the traditions of the apostles.

What constitutes an authoritative, Biblical example? Philippians 3:16-19 indicates that the binding example is that of the apostles, defined by their actions. We follow their example understanding that the outcome of our behavior would otherwise result in condemnation. And this brings us to another ingredient of Biblical examples: warning. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says that the events of the Old Testament, "were recorded for our admonition." Examples are binding not only when positive! Sometimes an example is intended to show us that we ought not to imitate it. Let us look at some common examples found in the New Testament that impacts our work and worship as a church today.

Authoritative examples govern much of the observance of the Lord's supper. The items of the Lord's supper are unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. Why? It is not because there is a direct command to observe it using these articles. No, it is because these articles are what the Lord Himself used (Matthew 26:17, 29), and that is an approved, binding example.

What about the day for observing the Lord's supper? Acts 20:7 says "On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…." This passage is the only one that speaks to the day of the week on which we should observe the Lord's supper. It is an approved example, and is therefore binding. If not, how can any practice be approved for sure, seeing that we would need neither direct command nor approved example for anything we do?! No, indeed. We can have no other practice but to take it on the first day of the week.

The contribution is governed in a similar way. The only passage in the New Testament which speaks about the day of the week on which we should give money is 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. It implies that all churches must have the same practice: to give on the first day of the week. Again, this is a binding example because there are no other commands concerning the timing of the contribution.

Authoritative examples govern worship services as well. While there are commands to sing, pray, teach, and the like, there is also an example that the church has done these things from day one in Acts 2:42.

What about forgiveness for the saint? Many in the religious world ask us why people would not need to be re-baptized for forgiveness of sins. The answer is a Biblical example. We are told in Acts 8:13 that one Simon (formerly a sorcerer) obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. But he later sinned in thinking he could buy the gift of God (verses 19-20). The instructions Peter gave him were, "Repent of your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you" (Acts 8:22). This example shows us that Christians do not need to be re-baptized every time they sin. They must pray for forgiveness after repenting.

What about the support of gospel preachers? Again, governed by Biblical example. 1 Corinthians 9:14 ordains that preachers are to make a living at preaching. So we know they are to be compensated, but how? 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 shows that a church low on funds can have a preacher that is supported by other churches. (There is a conspicuous absence of a missionary society or pooled funds here.) Philippians 4:15-19 shows that a church with abundant funds may support a preacher who is not local. This passage also shows that they supported the preacher, not the church where he preached, and that they sent the support directly to him rather than via a missionary society. Note also that when a church supports a preacher, they "share with him" and therefore have fellowship.

There is another way in which a preacher is authorized (by example) to receive support. Acts 18:1-3 and Acts 20:33-35 show that Paul had a secular job and paid his own way on many occasions. There are many preachers doing the same today.
The foregoing are some more commonly used examples of Biblical authority by example. But we need to consider some not-so-commonly used examples, as well. In fact, we are commanded to!

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us to imitate him in that he imitates Christ. Imitate Paul, huh? What did Paul do? Of course, we know that he taught the lost everywhere he went and served God in all things. But do we perhaps willingly forget that he withstood error to the face, tolerating compromise not for a moment (Galatians 2:5, 11)? Or that he called people's names from the pulpit if necessary (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17)? (And he defined "necessary" in Romans 16:17!) Or that he taught the same message of truth "…everywhere in every church?" (1 Corinthians 4:17) We need more preachers willing to be bound by this example.

Moreover, Ephesians 5:1 requires that we imitate God Himself! In context, that imitation manifests itself in "…having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather exposing them" (5:11). But can we not also look at the example of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh?

In John 6, Jesus taught many people. In verse 60, it is said that many of them were bothered by His message. Jesus asked, "Does this offend you?" (John 6:61) He gave the explanation of His words, but it is recorded that "…many of His disciples turned back and walked with Him no more" (verse 66). My point is not that we should seek to offend people. Rather we should seek not to offend if possible (Romans 12:18). The point is that we must speak truth regardless. We should never offend by our demeanor or our attitude-doing so is sin.

But if truth offends, "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). This is the example of Jesus and His chosen apostles.

Luis Zamora: Austin Texas


GOD’S AUTHORITY IN INFERENCE

By Micky Galloway

Divine authority is the real issue at the base of all religious differences. A knowledge of how to establish divine authority; a recognition of the different kinds of divine authority; a clear conception of the nature of each, and a faithful application of such knowledge will necessarily result in our speaking the same thing with no divisions among us, but all being perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor. 1:10).

Churches of Christ are now facing another authority crisis, the latest in a number that have divided God's people since the beginning. The very nature of Scripture and the proper approach to its study, as set forth in the sacred text itself, are being denied and rejected. Some are calling for a "new hermeneutic," a new way of looking at Scripture and ascertaining truth. It is hoped by them that by looking at the Scriptures differently and by approaching them differently, we will be able to find the answers to many issues confronting us, (i.e. marriage-divorce, women's liberation, homosexuality, abortion, instrumental music in worship, etc.) answers that will be generally acceptable and upon which we can unite. We are told that we can no longer view the Scriptures as a divinely-inspired constitution, designed to regulate our every belief and practice. Nor can we approach the Scriptures as a source of authority, as expressed in commands (statements), approved examples, and necessary inferences. We are told by some that this is a man-made system of Bible interpretation growing out of traditional views and doctrinal biases. Others tell us that authority is established by "principle." Let us be reminded that for any principle to be divine it must first be revealed by God. "Principles" are revealed in the Scriptures, by way of either expressed statement, approved apostolic example or necessary inference.

Other writers are discussing God's authority in commands (statements) and examples and my assignment is to discuss "God's Authority in Inference." The Bible does indeed teach by inference. When a command is neither expressly stated nor specifically exemplified, it may be determined by a logical deduction. However, let it be observed that in order to establish scriptural authority the inference must be NECESSARY. Herein is the mistake made by those who practice infant baptism. In the case of Lydia's household they reason that she MIGHT have been married; PROBABLY had children; if so, it is POSSIBLE that one of them was an infant, and, although she was away from home, in all PROBABILITY she had her infant with her. Hence, they conclude that an infant was in her household, and, therefore, infant baptism was practiced. Their inference is based upon "might," "probably," "possibly," "probability," etc., all of which amounts to only a reasonable inference based upon assumption. Scriptural authority is NOT established by reasonable inferences- they must be necessary! Things that are only "probable" or "likely" cannot be binding.

Everything that is ever said is said either implicitly or explicitly. To say something explicitly is to say it plainly in so many words. To say something implicitly is to say it by implication. Certainly much truth is revealed by implication. This is not a man made rule.

If I show you a square, and inform you that side A-B is 12 inches, I have told you two things explicitly: (1) The figure is a square; and (2) side A-B is 12 inches. However, in telling you that, I have also told you implicitly (necessarily inferred) that the perimeter of this figure is 48 inches; that the area is 144 square inches; and that the other three sides are also 12 inches each.

The fact that action is authorized by necessary conclusions is illustrated in classic Bible examples. Consider the baptism of Jesus (Mt. 3:l6). We know that Jesus went down into the water though it is not explicitly stated. We know this because you cannot come up out of the water without first having gone down into the water. This is a forced conclusion, a necessary inference. The resurrection of the dead is taught by necessary inference by our Lord in Mt. 22:23-33. The Sadducees denied the resurrection, considering the dead to be annihilated. Jesus did not use a direct statement to refute them, but rather quoted Ex. 3:6,16.. "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." When God spoke these words to Moses, the three patriarchs named had been dead for some four-hundred years. Yet, Jesus concludes (necessarily) that "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." From the tense of the verb ("I am" and not "I was"), Jesus drew the conclusion necessarily that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, lived so as to be resurrected. It is necessarily inferred that baptism is a part of preaching Christ (Acts 8:35-36). Nothing is explicitly stated in the text instructing the Eunuch to be baptized, only that Philip "preached unto him Jesus". Yet we know Philip preached to him about baptism, for when "they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (vs. 35-36) How did the Eunuch know about baptism? It is necessarily inferred that Philip taught him! It is by necessary inference that we learn that the church was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:4). We learn the frequency of observance of the Lord's Supper by necessary inference. If "the Sabbath day" in Ex. 20:8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy," means EVERY Sabbath as regularly as it comes, why should not "the first day" in Acts 20:7 "The first day of the week...to break bread" mean every "first day" as often as it comes? As every week has a "first day" it is necessarily implied that we must observe the Lord's Supper with weekly frequency upon the first day of the week. In Hebrews10:25, it is necessarily inferred that the church have a PLACE to meet. We are commanded, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting (one another); and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh." In the command to assemble, a PLACE is necessarily inferred. This is a forced conclusion. It is impossible to assemble without a place. Therefore, a church building is an expedient in providing a PLACE, which is necessarily inferred in the command to assemble.

In Acts 15 we find a classic example of God revealing His will by direct statement, approved apostolic examples and necessary inference. According to verse 1, the proposition under discussion was: "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved." After all other evidence was considered, James reached a conclusion that was the ONLY logical inference from the evidence. James said, "Wherefore my judgment is, that we trouble not them that from among the Gentiles turn to God" (vs. 19).

Necessary inference becomes an effective means of establishing divine authority. If we cannot find authorization either by direct statement, approved example, or necessary implication, then let us respect God's silence. Only when people appreciate divine authority revealed in the Scriptures and are determined to reproduce the faith of its message in their lives, will the unity of the Spirit be achieved and maintained.

Micky Galloway: Lancaster, California


CAN WE KNOW THE TRUTH?

Bill Reeves

Introduction:

     It is incredible that among brethren this subject be necessary. Yet, some brethren are denying that truth is fully knowable because they need a rationale to allow them to innovate that that is not authorized!

     "Truth cannot be understood alike...", we are told. Is that so? If truth is understood at all, it is understood alike! If two people understand the truth, they both understand it alike. If they don't understand it alike, one or both of them do not understand it at all!

     The above assertion in bold type is simply an ipse dixit. No Scripture accompanies it, for obvious reasons! Even if these erring brethren could cite Scripture for their false doctrine, how could we be sure that they really understand that or those Scriptures? According to them, I could not know for a fact that for which they are contending! Why are they telling us the "truth" of the matter, if we cannot know truth? How can I be sure that the quibbler and I understand alike that for which he contends? There is neither reason nor logic for his case!

I. Let us go to the Scriptures:

   Jn. 8:32; 17:17; Eph. 3:4; 2 Pet. 1:12; 1 Jn. 2:21 tell us that we shall know the truth, that God's word is truth, reading we can understand it, be established in it, and we do know it. The issue is closed!

   Jesus commands us to understand, Matt. 15:10; Matt. 24:15. Paul commands us to understand, Eph. 5:17. It was prophesied that we would understand, Rom. 15:21. Faith brings understanding, Heb. 11:3.

   An Old Testament classic illustration: the people could understand, were caused to understand, and the reading was with interpretation so that the people would understand! Neh. 8:3,7,8,13.

   There are people who do understand and there are people who do not, Matt. 13:19,23. But, there is a good reason for this, v.13-15. There are people who do not want to understand!

More Scripture:

   Prov. 28:5, they that seek Jehovah understand all things.

   Dan. 10:12, Daniel set his heart to understand.

   Dan. 12:10, they that are wise shall understand.

   Ps. 119:104 through thy precepts I get understanding.

   Col. 1:9, filled with understanding.

   Col. 2:2, full assurance of understanding.

   2 Tim. 2:7, Lord give thee understanding.

   1 Jn. 5:10, Son hath given us an understanding.

II. The purpose of revelation: learn the truth and obey it (Lk.8:16-18). God's will is not a hidden secret, but a known revelation of light. Therefore man must take heed how he hears that truth.

   God's plan is a teaching plan, Jn. 6:44,45; Isa. 2:2,3. Paul had preached the whole counsel of God to the Ephesian elders, Acts 20:27. Did they understand it?

   God intended for his gospel to be made known to all the nations, Rom. 16:26; Eph. 6:19.

   The Scriptures are given to us so that we can know certain things, 1 Tim. 3:15; Eph. 1:18; 1 Jn. 5:13.

   It is a reflection on the love of God, on his wisdom, and on his power to affirm that we cannot all understand his will alike! Has God spoken? (Heb. 1:l,2) Did he speak with the intention of being understood? If man cannot understand alike the revealed will of God, it logically follows that God is too loveless, too unwise, and too limited in power to reveal his will for man in language that all can understand. Is the quibbler ready to accept this logic?

III. God's people are knowledgeable!

   Rom. 15:14, filled with all knowledge.

   1 Cor. 1:5, enriched in all knowledge.

   1 Cor. 8:1, We know that we all have knowledge.

   Col. 1:9, we are to be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

   Col. 2:2, we are to have full assurance of understanding that we may know.

   Isa. 11:9, God prophesied that the earth would be full of the knowledge of Jehovah.

IV. There are things that the Christian must certainly know if God's word is true!

   Jn. 7:17, if any do his will, he shall know.

   Matt. 3:11, it is given unto us to know.

   1 Jn. 2:3, we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

V. The quibbler in his sophistry misstates the issue.

     "Do you know everything?" he asks. Well, to him I ask, do you know anything (for sure)? How do you know that we can't know everything (needed for our eternal salvation)? If you know any one thing (e.g., baptism for the remission of sins), why is it that you can surely know that but cannot know all else that God has revealed for us? These quibblers need to do some question-answering! (But don't hold your breath until they do so!)

     "Do you have perfect understanding, knowledge?" they ask. If I am mature, then I am perfect (Phil. 3:15). There is a relative knowledge and we grow in it (2 Pet. 3:18). Let me now ask the queerest: Do you understand anything at all? If yes, explain how you have "perfect understanding" of that point of truth, but cannot have such understanding or knowledge of other points of doctrine. We can either understand all that God has revealed for man, or we cannot understand anything that God has revealed. These quibblers want to choose and pick just what to know and understand, and what not to know and understand.

     Jesus settled this issue when he said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (Jn. 8:32). Let the quibbler tell Jesus that he was wrong!

VI. The problem:

     People want to tell God how to reveal his will! Have they never read Isa. 55:9? How did God reveal to Paul and his companions to where they should go to preach the gospel (Acts 16:6-10)? After Paul and his companions twice were forbidden by divine message as to where they thought they should go, yet were not told where to go, Paul received a vision which implied that they were to go to Macedonia, and they inferred that such was the divine will, and so they went to Philippi. Did God finally reveal to them to where they should go to preach? Yes. Did he do it with a direct command? No. He did it by giving a vision that implied where to go, and they made the necessary inference. Would I have done it that way? No, and so what? I'm not in control; I am not God. God does things his own way. Anything wrong with that, oh professed believer in Christ? And, please tell us what would have been the case had Paul and his companions, rejecting God's implication in the vision, gone elsewhere rather than to Philippi. Tell us, please! But no, you are not even about to do it!

     Hidden agendas! Innovators always use carnal tactics. They must deny authority in order to bring in their practices, or discard certain practices to which they object. This is the epitome of unbelief. To say that we cannot be certain of God's truth is to demonstrate a lack of faith. Truth directs our path - Psa. 119:105.

     So, beware of uncertain sounds of unbelief, which undermine faith in the truth and understanding of God's holy word! Psa. 119:104,130.

VII. Look at this inconsistency:

     "Commands, examples and implication are not equally authoritative", so state some. That statement implies that all three are authoritative by stating that they are not equally so. So, the quibbler admits that examples and implication are authoritative, but in reality he doesn't accept that. The next statement proves my point. "Since, implication is not authoritative, musical instruments would in all reality be ok." But, implication is authoritative when God chooses to use it to express his will to man (Acts 16:6-10). Is the quibbler ready to admit into public worship of God, not only musical instruments, but also the burning of incense, the use of water (as the Mormons do) instead of the fruit of the vine, the ringing of bells in connection with the Lord's Supper, the use of ecclesiastical robes, choirs and women preachers?

     But another one states: "our differences are matters of semantics". No, our differences have to do with our respect for revealed truth, or lack of respect for it! By their "smooth and fair speech" (Rom. 16:18) they engage in propaganda and evasive tactics.

 

VIII. Concluding thoughts:

     What is the reason that we cannot know all of the truth? Whose fault is it? Was truth given to be had and understood? Since according to some we don't have all the truth, what is there about the truth of God that we cannot understand? Why can we understand some of it and not all of it? Whose fault is it that we cannot understand the truth alike? What are the consequences for those who don't understand the truth alike? Are there consequences? Let the quibbler answer. If he ever answers, will we be able to understand him? If so, how is it that we can understand him but not God? If we all can't understand him alike, are we all free to make of what he said anything we want to make of it?

     If we can know the truth, as Jesus said (Jn. 8:32), don't we have to understand the truth alike (if indeed we know it)? Can two people understand the truth differently and both still know the truth? If so, then truth is anything anyone wants to make of it!

     Dear brethren, "be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (1 Thess. 5:17).

Bill Reeves: Hopkinsville, Kentucky


WHY I TRULY LOVE GOD’S WORD

26 Alphabetical Reasons

Psalms 119:97

(David Also Did)

By Bob Dodson

INTRODUCTION:
It is imperative to love the truth if we want to be saved (II Thess. 2:9-12). We must know the truth and follow the truth daily in order to be free from sin and enter glory (I John 8:31-32).

1. AFFECTION: God's word teaches us that loving God wholeheartedly and our neighbor as our self is the greatest evidence of our respect for God's law. Matt. 22:37-38

2. BEAUTIFICATION: God's word when obeyed makes an ugly sinner a beautiful Christian (I Peter 1:22-23).

3. CONSIDERATION: God's word tells us how "considerate" God is for us (Rom. 5:8-11), and how we can in turn show God our consideration for Him and His people (Heb. 10:22-25).

4. DIRECTION: God's word gives us details of how to press onward in righteousness and upward in holiness (Eph. 4:24-32).

5. EDIFICATION: Only God's word can build up our resistance to evil and error and help us draw nigh unto God (James 4:6-10). God's word states that humility and integrity please God (Matt. 18:3-4; Psalms 26:1-3).

6. FIXATION: God's spiritual and permanent "fix" against sin is His word (Psalms 119:11). If we fix or "set" our minds and hearts on heaven (Col. 3:1-2) the things of this world will be unimportant.

7. GLORIFICATION: God's word declares that our every word and deed should glorify our Maker (I Cor. 10:31-33) and that authority from God is imperative for all (Col. 3:17).

8. HESITATION: God's word is kind enough to warn us to not be hesitant in doing good or we sin (James 4:17). Rather let us be steadfast and abound in God's good works (I Cor. 15:58; Eph. 2:8-10).

9. INSTRUCTION: God's word builds us from the "inside out" (Rom. 7:22), and this inspired Telegram of Truth does state clearly God's righteous instructions (II Tim. 3:16-17). If our inner structure (heart) is solid and strong (Phil. 4:8) then our outer man (body) will be occupied correctly (Rom. 12:1-2).

10. JURISDICTION: God's word indicates that God has complete authority over man in judgment (II Cor. 5:10-11). Following Christ and apostolic teaching is jurisprudence (Acts 2:42) whereas following Satan is certain eternal tragedy (John 8:44; Rev. 21:8).

11. 'KEEP'IZATION: (coined-word) God's word promises that if we "keep His commandments" we can by His grace and mercy enter the pearly gates (Rev. 22:14) and keeping His commands with patience demonstrates our true love for God (John 14:15).

12. LAMENTATION: God's word surely states that we should "mourn" over our sins and others and that repentance is mandatory for all people (Matt. 5:1-4; Acts 17:30-31). Real tears over real sins, should touch our heartstrings and produce change for good (II Cor. 7:10-11).

13. MANIFESTATION: God's word is the demonstration of God's tender compassion for all people (II Peter 3:9). By giving His word of truth He made possible salvation for all (I Tim. 2:3-4).

14. NOTIFICATION: God's word instills heavenly wisdom into our hearts as we study and pray (James 3:13-18; James 5:16). God's word says we should take note that "most will be lost and few will be saved" (Matt. 7:13-14). Let us take note and walk the narrow way that leads unto eternal life! This is the way of obedience (Heb. 5:8-9).

15. OPERATION: God's word is the means by which God plants His teaching in our hearts (James 1:21-25). God's operation upon our hearts in baptism is when He forgives us, (Col. 2:12). This operation removes the deadly leprosy of sin.

16. PRESENTATION: God's word is His constitution that He present to man to follow and if we follow His "rules" we will give our bodies and minds to God in loving service (Rom. 12:1-2) as a gift to God to advertise His (Love and Grace).

17. QUESTION: God's word so aptly states that if we lovingly and joyfully serve the Lord we have no need to question His promises of salvation (Titus 1:12; Rom. 6:23). God's word contains the answer of heaven to every earthly question we encounter about salvation (I Peter 3:15; II Peter 1:3-4).

18. RECONCILIATION: God's word says that in sin man is at war with God (John 8:21), but that God's Son Jesus Christ is the means of reconciling man to God (ii Cor. 5:17-21). When sinners obey the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38), Christ becomes their peace with God, and man is God's friend again (Eph. 2:13-18).

19. SALVATION: God's word surely is His manuscript that provides terms of God's acceptance of man (Rom. 1:16-17). God's word sanctifies those who love and obey His glorious truth (John 17:17-21). In detail God's word also declares who will not be saved (Gal. 5:19-21).

20. TEMPTATION: God's word warns us that yielding to temptation to commit evil is an eternal mistake (James 1:12-15). God's law states that for a child of God prayer is essential to avoiding sin (Matt. 26:41). Eternal life is promised to those who endure and remain faithful (James 1:12).

21. USURPATION: God's word is perfect and complete and right, and when man infringes upon God's laws by writing his own laws, his worship is in vain (Matt. 15:8-9). Man usurps God's word by his traditions and philosophy (Col. 2:8), for man's wisdom is earthly, sensual, devilish (James 3:16).

22. VEXATION: God's word tells man what is worthwhile and what it not (Eccl. 2:1-15; Eccl. 12:13-14). The lies of Satan and lifestyles of sin only "vex" the soul with sin and evil consequences. God's word is the medicine needed to heal the sin-sick souls and lives of man (Rev. 22:17; Matt. 4:4).

23. 'WORTH'IMATION: (coined-word) God's word so clearly states that God is worthy of all our love and trust (Rev. 5:9-10). His word shouts out the worth of man unto God (Matt. 16:24-26). He also says in His word that heaven will be worth all our commitment and sacrifice (I Pet. 1:3-9). Also one second in Hell will not be worth a lifetime of sensual, sinful pleasure (Mark 9:43-48; Heb. 11:24-26).

24. 'X'PLANATION: (Explanation) God's word explains carefully that He created us, and we are altogether responsible to Him for our conduct while here (Gen. 1:26-27; John 12:48-50). God's word explains the necessity of joining our faith with works if we desire salvation (James 2:17-26). God's word explains very carefully, that we have a free-will choice whether we serve God or the Devil (Rom. 6:16-18).

25. 'YIELD'SURATION: (coined word) God's word in clear terms states that yielding to God and His law for all our life is good for us (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 8:1-2). In yielding we do so with joy and love (Phil. 4:4-6; Gal. 5:6). Failure of man to yield the right of way to God will result in the most terrible fatality (II Thess. 1:7-9).

26. 'ZEAL'IZATION: (coined word) God's word marries our energetic efforts with the truth so as to influence others to love and serve God also (Titus 2:11-16). If we zealously let our light shine our influence will weigh heavy upon others (Matt. 5:13-16).

Bob Dodson: Hemet, California