EXAMINING THE QURAN
Should we avoid exposing the errors in the
to spare the feelings of our Moslem
An article appeared in July, 1997 edition of The
Christian Chronicle under the title, The Islamic
World. The author, managing editor Glover Shipp, suggested
that Churches of Christ are at the amateur level in
communication with and converting Muslims....
Citing Wesley Jones, who is reputed to have a better
insight into this matter than most of us, brother Shipp lists some
principles which he feels will help us in reaching out to the
Moslem community. Some of these suggestions are useful, but one of
them is puzzling.
Know the Quran, but dont attack it. As
there are slanderous opinions circulated about the
Bible, so there are about the Quran.
Intellectual honesty forbids that we repeat these.
And obviously, attacking the Muslim Holy Book itself
closes minds (p.17).
We believe that several things need to be said in response
to this statement.
IS THE QURAN FROM GOD?
First, there are common-sense guidelines in the New
Testament that will enable the devout Christian to know how to
approach potential converts of any religion within a variety of
international backgrounds. Granted those who have lived among
certain peoples may have some keener insights into the cultural
peculiarities of a country. These matters, however, are not the
paramount aspect of seeking the lost. In the first century there
was simply a compassionate proclamation of the pure gospel, brought
to bear upon honest hearts; this produced an explosive growth of
the kingdom of Christ.
Second, no lover of souls possessing intellectual
honesty, has any desire whatever to misrepresent the teachings
of the Moslem Quran, by appealing to unfounded slanderous
opinions regarding Islams sacred book. Nothing
is ever gained by misrepresenting an opponent, or in exhibiting a
mean-spirited attitude. However, it would have been helpful if the
author had cited a few examples of this unscrupulous methodology so
that such tactics might be avoided.
Third, the suggestion that we should adopt a hands
off policy with reference to Islams holy book
is strange indeed. How could one possibly hope to convert those of
the Islamic persuasion without demonstrating the fact that the
Quran is not a sacred work?
The word attack is very loaded, of course,
but the bottom line is this. If Moslems claim that the Quran
is a divine production, and yet it is not, then this book
represents a perversion of truth. No Moslem will ever be led to the
Lord until he renounces this fraudulent document and acknowledges
the Bible as his solitary source of divine guidance. The fact of
the matter is, there is great value in showing that the Quran
is not supported by the sort of evidence that would be
characteristic of an inspired production.
Moslems sincerely believe that the Quran is a
divine book. It is styled The Holy Quran. This
volume consists of 114 sections called Suras, each of which is
divided into verses. Each Sura (except 9) begins with: In the
name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
It is alleged that the Quran was revealed to
Mohammed verbatim by the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years
(but compiled after his death). One passage asserts: Praise be
to God, Who hath sent to His Servant [Mohammed] The Book [the
Quran], and hath allowed Therein no Crookedness (18:1).
Inasmuch as the Quran declares itself to be a
revelation from God, we have every right to examine this claim. If
the book does not meet the standard that one has a right to expect
from a document that claims to be from Heaven, it must be rejected
as false, and its weaknesses should be exposed.
Geisler and Saleeb review eight lines of argument that
are employed to demonstrate that the Quran is sacred. These
may be summarized as follows:
- The Qurans unique literary style is such
that it could
have been authored only by God (10:37; 17:88).
- Since Mohammed was an unlettered Prophet, he
have produced the book himself (7:157).
- The claim is made that the Quran is the only book
been preserved in its exact original form
- The Quran is believed to contain prophecies that
demonstrate its inspiration.
- Its alleged unity, or lack of discrepancy
supposed to argue for its divine origin.
- The Quran is allegedly marked by a scientific
foreknowledge that can be explained only in terms of
- Supposedly the Quran is characterized by a
precision based upon the number nineteen.
- It is argued that the Quran has changed lives,
thus it must
be sacred (pp. 181-203).
When these arguments are critically examined they
simply do not establish the case. For example: The Quran does
not have a profound literary style. It is characterized by numerous
grammatical aberrations. Moreover, as McClintock and Strong
observed, it is exceedingly incoherent and sententious, the
book evidently being without any logical order of thought either as
a whole or in its parts (V.151).
The so-called prophecies are merely vague
political speculations that do not even begin to rival biblical
prophecy either in precision or in chronological proximity to
the events they supposedly depict (cf. 30:2-4). Scientific accuracy
can hardly be claimed when the Quran suggests that the human
fetus results from sperm that changes into a clot of
congealed blood, which then becomes bones, later to be covered
with flesh (23:14).
The Quran is morally flawed in numerous respects.
For example, those who oppose Mohammed should be subjected to
execution [i.e., decapitation], or crucifixion, or the cutting
off of hand and feet from opposite sides... (5:36). Women are
treated shamefully in the Moslem religion. If a woman is guilty of
ill-conduct, she may be admonished, deprived of sex, or
beaten in moderation (4:34).
How could one deal with Islam without exposing the errors
of the Quran? Surely our brethren who advise: dont
attack [the Quran], have not carefully considered this
matter. We must be kind, but we cannot ignore error.
Geisler, Norman and Saleeb, Abdul (1993), Answering
Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker).
Haneef, Susanne (1979), What Everyone Should Know
About Islam and Muslims (Chicago: Kazi Publications).
McClintock, John & Strong, James (1969), Cyclopedia
of Biblical, Ecclesiastical, and Theological Literature (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House).
The Holy Quran (1946), Abdullah Yusuf
Ali, Translator (Islamic Propagation Centre International).
Christian Courier: Archives
Thursday, September 13, 2001
Table of Contents
Matters Of Faith And Opinion
James W. Boyd
Our lesson deals with authority. An understanding of this
subject is important because it affects unity, and the
effectiveness of the church at work. Misunderstanding has created
problems, divisions and apostasy. Psalm 133:1, Behold how
good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in
unity. That which disrupts unity is a serious matter for
those who love the Lord. The only way to have genuine unity is to
have an understanding of the truth and follow it.
What do we mean by matters of faith and opinion?
Matters of faith are those things imposed upon us because God has
spoken concerning them. Matters of faith are those revelations in
His Word that make up the faith or religion of Jesus Christ.
Jude three speaks of the faith once delivered to
the saints. Matters of faith are those points that are embodied in
that faith, that exist by the Lords authority and direction,
that are to be believed and practiced because they are revealed by
God. Matters of faith are those truths that come to us by the Word
For instance, the Bible reveals the terms of entrance
into the company of the saved, the church, to be faith
(Heb. 11:6), repentance (Acts 2:38), confession of
faith (Acts 8:37), and baptism into Christ (Rom.
6:3-6). These are matters of thus saith the Lord. The
Bible reveals the avenues of worship to be singing (Eph.
5:19), praying (Acts 12:5), the Lords Supper
(Acts 20:7), giving (I Cor. 16:2), and
proclaiming His Word (Acts 20:7). We cannot add to nor take
from what God has said. There is no room for deviation from them
(Gal. 1:6-9: II John 9-11: Rev. 21:18-19: I Peter 4:11; Col. 3:17).
They cannot be violated without sinning against Gods
Matters of opinion are matters that demand and allow the
exercise of human judgment. There are matters commanded and
authorized of God (matters of faith) for which specific directions
as to how to carry out these things are not given in every detail.
The details have to be supplied nonetheless, and are supplied by
human judgment. When God gives a command or direction, and tells
how it is to be expedited, then the command and the way
of carrying out that command are matters of faith. But when God has
given command, direction, or permission for something without
giving details as to how it is to be expedited, the command must be
obeyed, but man must use his judgment to supply the details that
God has not specified. Opinions are involved, and human opinions
are not infallible and are subject to question and variation. We
are to be charitable toward one another respecting matters of
For instance, we are commanded to go and preach
the Gospel. We are told to preach, and what to preach. These
are matters of faith. But we are not told how to go. We
must use our judgment. We may go in whatever way seems the most
expedient, whether we walk, run, ride, fly, float, etc. One may
prefer to walk, and another prefer to fly. It is a matter of
opinion and we must allow each one to exercise his own judgment or
We are commanded to teach, but the method
of teaching is not specified. We may use chalk boards, radio,
television, tracts, etc. When we teach we may use the lecture
method, question and answer method, whatever one thinks best for
the situation. It is a matter of opinion.
We are told to baptize and this is a matter
of faith. God has spoken. But where we baptize is not
specified and that is a matter of judgment so long as we have an
ample supply of water to immerse. That is a matter of opinion.
The use of such judgment can not and must not alter the
thing commanded neither take from it or add to it. We are to
carry out what is commanded. There is no right or wrong way of
doing it when God has not directed which way, and the way we choose
does not violate His will in any other way. Some ways may be better
than others. But which way one chooses is a matter of opinion.
In matters of congregational efforts, someone must decide
which opinion will prevail. Obviously, everybody cannot do
everything his way because there may be several ways of
accomplishing something. Those with the responsibility and
authority to decide in matters of opinion for the congregation are
the elders of the church. They have the oversight and are the
overseers (I Peter 5:2: Acts 20:28). Their decisions are to be
obeyed and respected by the members (Heb. 13:17). They decide only
in matters of opinion, not matters of faith, because the Word has
already been revealed concerning matters of faith. In matters of
opinion, there must be charity and consideration one of another.
CASES IN POINT
To illustrate further, consider the FINANCING of the work
of the church. First Corinthians 16:1-2 and Second Corinthians
9:6-7 teach we are to give a free-will offering, as we have been
prospered, as we have purposed, cheerfully and liberally. There is
no authority for fund raising through raffles, pie suppers,
carnivals, rummage sales, business ventures, etc. But as to
how the collections may be gathered, there is room and need
for human judgment. Some may wish to pass the plate by the
people. It would be just as acceptable with God to pass
the people by the plate, though possibly not as expedient.
This decision requires judgment.
DECISIONS MUST HE MADE
Consider the MUSIC in worship. God has spoken, and in
every passage, He says sing. He did not say to just
make music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). For this reason we
reject so-called translations that include the words make
music which God never said. No man has the right to introduce
another kind of music that does not have Gods
authority. Playing instruments produces another kind of music that
is not authorized and therefore wrong. But whether we use song
books, have two or four songs, sing four part harmony or all sing
the melody, are matters of judgment and opinion. On these matters
God has not spoken, although the command to sing must be expedited
Regarding the WORK with which the church is charged,
we are to preach the Gospel to the lost (to save the
lost), edify the saved (to preserve the saved and/or
recover the fallen), and render benevolent aid to those
who are in need as we have opportunity. For each of these areas of
work we have a thus saith the Lord. These are matters of
faith as to what the church can and cannot do with Gods
authority. Unless an activity is authorized, it cannot be lawfully
expedited in any way. No man, board, or any group has the right to
saddle upon the church secular education, entertainment, and such
things as building gymnasiums for fun and games. No man can arrange
some unauthorized organization to do the work of the church. The
government of the church is sufficient to do the work the Lord has
given the church to do. It is not the work of the church to be
involved in secular schools, politics, athletic games, nor to usurp
the role of the home or the civil government.
Doing the work of evangelism, edification, and
benevolence, requires many human decisions because every detail in
doing that work is not revealed in Scripture. Who shall we send
into the mission field? Where shall we send them? How much is
adequate support? What equipment is needed? Shall we conduct
classes? Where shall we assemble? Who is to teach at what time? How
do we care for the needy such as orphans, widows, the destitute,
etc.? All these things are required in doing the work, but the
manner of doing it is not a matter of faith, it is a matter
of opinion. Somebody decides.
A VERY CLEAR EXAMPLE
As for carrying for the homeless, the church is not
designed to be the home. It cannot be the home. There are no elders
over a home. But the church provides for the homeless by providing
a home. How these provisions are to be supplied falls into the
realm of the unrevealed but necessary judgments.
One other illustration makes the distinction between
matters of faith and opinion very clear. Hebrews 10:25, I
Corinthians 11:20, Acts 20:7 all teach the command to assemble on
the first day of the week. No man can set that aside without
violating Gods will. But still there are matters of judgment
that must be determined. Where shall we meet? At what hour on the
first day of the week do we meet? How long shall we assemble
together? All these things are matters of human opinion.
To ignore these principles of faith and opinion is to
ignore the difference between the Lords church and
denominationalism. It is to invite confusion, strife, and division.
Departure from these principles has brought havoc to the church too
many times from liberals as well as those who would bind human
laws. Those who ignore Gods authority by loosing what God has
bound, or binding what God has loosed, create problems for
Gods people. We have no right to dismiss any matter of faith.
We have no right to make any matter of opinion a matter of faith.
History shows how disrespect for this distinction has
created barriers between both individuals and congregations, and
has retarded the cause of Christ. The denominational world is often
guilty of disregarding matters of faith. Brethren have also been
guilty of confusing matters of faith and opinion. We need to
recognize the difference, abide in His authority, have authority
for all that we do (Col. 3:17), bind what God has bound, and loose
what God looses.
2720 S Chancery St.
McMinnville, TN 37110
Table of Contents
Roger D. Campbell
Many congregations of Gods people publish a weekly
bulletin. Some may wonder why a local church even bothers with such
an item. After all, it does require time and work to prepare a
bulletin. Bulletins do not produce themselves, so it takes effort
on someones part to get them done. And, the paper and ink used
to print them are not cheap. Besides, if you have ever noticed,
some of them just get thrown down on the floor. Maybe you have even
seen that in some cases, kids turn bulletins into drawing paper or
a coloring book. Oh yes, we are aware of all of these truths.
Still, we are convinced that church bulletins have the potential to
be a great aid in the Lords work.
Church bulletins come in different sizes, colors, and
formats, but basically they all have one thing in common: church
bulletins are used as a means of communication. First, they are a
tool by which a local church teaches the Bible. The teaching of the
Bible via bulletins is one way of carrying out the Lords
charge to preach the Gospel to every person (Mark 16:15). At the
same time, the teaching done in bulletin articles and other
Bible-based materials is a means of edifying or building up the
church (Rom. 14:19).
A second major function of bulletins is to provide
information to the congregation. If we are to see to the needs of
the sick or those with special material or physical needs (Matt.
25:35,36), then we need to be aware of those needs and
opportunities. Providing such information in bulletins is helpful
in getting the word out to all the members of a congregation.
Announcements relative to upcoming events of a local church are
often printed in bulletins. This helps the members arrange their
plans in order to be able to support the activities of the church.
We know we are to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with
those that weep (Rom. 12:15), showing support for both those
members of the body that suffer as well as those that are honored
(I Cor. 12:26). Again, printing information about these matters in
a bulletin helps keep a congregation better informed and prepared
to serve others in the body.
From the Great Commission and other New
Testament passages, we conclude that a local church is authorized
to prepare, produce, print, and pass out a church bulletin. The
leaders of a local church give consideration to what type of
bulletin arrangement is most expedient for a local flock of
Gods people. Those leaders then determine the size, format,
and frequency of producing a bulletin for the needs of a local
congregation. Bulletins really can be edifying, encouraging, and
useful in a number of senses.
Church bulletins can also be quite revealing. What do
church bulletins reveal? For one thing, many church bulletins
reveal attendance tendencies. I am appalled at some of the
attendance statistics that I see in the bulletins of congregations
that have had a reputation of being sound in the faith. It is not
uncommon for some of them to have an average Sunday morning Bible
class attendance or mid-week attendance that is barely 50% of the
average Sunday morning worship attendance. In many cases there are
special health and other issues that affect a congregations
attendance, but 50%?! We all need to take seriously the charge to
seek first the Lords affairs (Matt. 6:33) and set our
interests on spiritual matters (Col. 3:2). When God and His affairs
have first place in our hearts, our attendance at the services of
Gods church will be a natural thing for us.
Church bulletins also reveal a local churchs
emphasis. What dominates the pages of a bulletin, is it social
matters or spiritual matters? What is predominantly seen in a
bulletins teaching section, is it quotes from the
Bible, or quotes from religious scholars of our day? Is
it humor, or Bible? There is a place for Gods people to smile,
as the Bible says, A merry heart doeth good like a
medicine (Prov. 17:22). I have neither the desire nor
the right to try and tell a preacher or bulletin-preparer what
percentage of his message may be humor-oriented. But, brethren,
mark it down. A strong church is not built and maintained by humor!
Gods Kingdom is strengthened through strong teaching of sound
doctrine. After the apostle Paul expressed his concern for the
future affairs of the church in Ephesus, he told the overseers of
that church, And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and
to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to
give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified
(Acts 20:32). Remember, we grow through the milk of Gods
word (I Peter 2:2), not funny stories.
Recently I mentioned to a brother in the Lord the name
of a man that is scheduled to appear on a youth program in our fair
state. The brother told me that he had heard the man speak before.
His analysis was that the man in his sermon used three or four
verses and filled the rest of his time with humor and stories.
Brethren, where is the emphasis in our teaching from the pulpits,
in the classroom, and in our bulletins? Is the emphasis on the
Book, or social affairs? Is it on the Lords word, or mens
stories? God being my helper, as long as my feeble hands have a
part in producing a bulletin, it will be a teaching tool that is
Some church bulletins reveal the flesh. I take no
delight in saying such, but it is true. Some bulletins that I have
seen in the past show women with bare mid-sections, men and women
wearing swimsuits, or both sexes wearing skimpy jogging shorts that
cover only about 1/3 of the upper leg. Surely there would never be
such flesh on display in church bulletins? Sadly, it happens.
You must be talking about denominations and not the church of
Christ. No, I am talking 100% about bulletins put out by the
Lords church. The covering of the body from shoulders to knees
that God apparently provided for Adam and Eve when He clothed them
in tunics (Gen. 3:21), is still a safe practice to follow in our
dress. Modest apparel is still in fashion with the Lord
God (I Tim. 2:9). That goes for pictures in church bulletins just
as much as it does for any other occasion. Some congregations now
publish their bulletins on-line (they have web sites on the
internet). Some web sites include pictures of activities that
involve members of the congregation. Some of these on-line photos
reveal the flesh just like some printed bulletins do. Again, I take
no pleasure in pointing out the reality of what some congregations
do and then publish in picture form in their bulletins or on the
internet. I am simply pointing out the facts.
Church bulletins also reveal the fellowship tendencies
of a congregation. When we announce upcoming events, activities,
and programs that involve other congregations and special speakers,
should we not take care to announce only those that involve sound
brethren? Surely some items fall into the realm of judgment. Yet,
it is a mystery to me why some congregations seem to make little or
no distinction in the things that they advertise and encourage the
local saints to support. When a bulletin announces a Gospel meeting
at a sound congregation, then right alongside it there is an
announcement about a drama team from an apostate university in
Nashville, TN (David Lipscomb University) coming somewhere
to perform for the area teens, it is sending forth a mixed signal
of uncertain sounds. Either folks do not know what is going on,
they do not see error as a big deal, they just do not care, or else
they are deceived into thinking that as long as an announcement
says church of Christ on it, then surely it
cant be too bad. Brethren, we are not to have fellowship
with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11). When we publish
in our bulletins every announcement under the sun that
comes our way, we are sending a message to our brethren that can
potentially damage their souls. When we support the unfaithful, we
become partakers of their evil deeds. The Bible says so (II John
Church bulletins can be extremely helpful to the
Lords Cause. I personally benefit from a number of bulletins
that I receive. I thank God for them. Other bulletins that I have
seen through the years have been, to say it kindly, woefully
lacking when it comes to providing any true spiritual benefit. May
every congregation of the Lords church that produces a
bulletin be committed to using it for Gods glory, for the
strengthening of His church, and for the eternal salvation of
4865 Bates Pike SE
Cleveland, TN 37323
Table of Contents
By Grace Are Ye Saved
Aaron M. M. Purvis
A lot of gibberish has been advanced over the years in
relation to this marvelous statement from Pauls pen. Just
lately I had the opportunity to speak with a lady regarding how
alien sinners come to be saved. She intimated to me that when a
sinner decides to believe in the Lord, all the sinner must do is to
pray for Gods mercy in Jesus name and he/she will be
saved. We hear this a lot from televangelists and from various
denominational preachers. I would be indebted greatly to the person
who could point me in the proper direction as to where that passage
of scripture is found in the Word of God. I truly would! Because
once the passage is cited, and once it is established by that
citation that sinners are saved upon praying for Gods mercy,
then Ill be able, in all good conscience, to affirm that
proposition. In the meantime, however, my conscience keeps
tediously tugging on my mind to the contrary to recollect the
account of the conversion of Saul (Paul), not to mention the host
of other accounts of conversion in the book of Acts, which utterly
conflict with that erroneous ideology.
PRAYER DID NOT SAVE SAUL
When Saul was on the road to Damascus, he evidently saw
around noon, a great light which shone from
heaven (Acts 22:6). In the state of awe with which an event
such as that tends to be accompanied, and being dumbfounded by the
fact that his prior convictions were completely misguided, Paul
could only now do what the Lord would have him to do (Acts 9:6). He
was told to go to Damascus and to wait for someone who would tell
him what to do to be saved. This, Paul did.
Before Paul met Ananias, the one who would tell him
what to do and hence before Paul was told by Ananias to have his
sins washed away by God in water baptism (Acts 22:16), the Lord
told Ananias that Paul, who had already confessed Jesus as
Lord, was praying (Acts 9:11). Did you catch that? He was
praying, and yet was still waiting to be pardoned from sin!
It wasnt until he met Ananias, was loosed from the
scales which obscured his sight, was told his duty in proclaiming
that message with which the majority of people in this life have
yet to be enlightened, and finally to be baptized that
his sins were then, and not before, washed away by the blood of
Jesus (Acts 22:10-16; cf. Eph. 1:7). If prayer saved Saul, neither
Saul, Ananias, nor God knew it, for none of them would have made
Saul wait for Ananias, nor would they have proclaimed that his sins
were washed away only after he had arisen and been baptized!
Indeed, Saul was saved, not by prayer, but by his surrender to God
in obeying the gospel of His Dear Son (cf. Rom. 6:16-18; Heb. 5:9).
Upon hearing the Biblical doctrine that at baptism is
when ones sins are washed away, our dear lady friend rehearsed
that same old argument based upon the much-abused statement from
Paul in Ephesians two that her denominations leaders had
undoubtedly countless times informed her to misquote unawares.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man
should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). The argument usually avowed
regarding this passage (that is used to refute the Bibles
clear teaching on the necessity of baptism for salvation, cf. Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Peter 3:21), typically flows thusly: 1)
Were saved by grace; not by works. 2) Baptism is a work. 3)
Therefore, baptism is not necessary for salvation. Lets see if
this rationale has any merit.
Parents often give gifts to their children on their
birthday. The gift is given freely out of love and favor from
parents to child. It is not given out of necessity because the
child earned or merited the gift. It is not based upon the
childs works, but by the grace (favor) of the parent that the
child is given the gift. But the child is not necessarily without
conditions of action in the reception of the free gift either. The
child must still take the package in which the gift is contained,
untie the bow which binds the wrapping, unwrap the box, open it,
and take the gift out in order to truly enjoy the benefits of the
freely, graciously-given gift. Yet, did the child, in thus doing,
somehow nullify the fact that the parent gave the gift out of love
and grace and not merit? No! Again, NO! The gift was given by
grace, not by works, even though some works still contributed to
the reception of the gift (after all, you cant have a gift
without first receiving it!).
GRACE, WORKS, AND BAPTISM JUXTAPOSED
To read of a great Biblical illustration, read Joshua
6 and note the fact that: 1) God had given, through his
grace/favor, the city of Jericho into the hands of Israel, and 2)
God had them march around Jericho once a day for six days, and
seven times the seventh day. Though given by grace (not works),
Israel still had to act in some capacity to obtain the gift of God.
Israels actions did not nullify Gods free gift they
did not earn Jericho. It was the gift of God, their works
Paul says we are saved by grace, not by works. Our lady
friend, along with those like her, will distort this passage to
mean that nothing we do contributes to our salvation. We
play no part at all. God does it all. And so, baptism is
excluded. Now, based upon what youve read so far, do you find
something peculiar with this line of reasoning? The argument is
made that belief and prayer saves the sinner! I dont
know about you, but I have yet to find one morsel of logic in the
assertion that baptism cant save because, allegedly, no
works whatsoever save us, and yet in virtually the very same
breath claim that believing and praying (both works
done by the mind and mouth of man) are activities
that can and do save! Inconsistency is the progeny of
all lies! If baptism is precluded from salvation on the basis of
Ephesians 2:8-10, then so is prayer! Anyone who doesnt see
that, doesnt want to see it.
In Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:4-5, Paul specifies
that he is writing about works that give grounds for boasting
(v.9). Paul is talking about the basis of our
salvation or the reason for which we are saved; not about the
conditions or the specific requirements pertaining thereto.
In other words, God is the one who pardons, not man. Salvation is
not of ourselves (Eph. 2:8). The grace of God is the basis
of our salvation. We readily agree that we are not saved by
works of merit or human righteousness (cf. Phil. 3:9; Rom. 10:1-3).
For then, our salvation would not be of God, but rather ourselves
and our own striving.
What one needs to know, is that not every work done by
men gives grounds for boasting. There are works which cause us to
say We are unprofitable servants: we have only done that
which was our duty to do (Luke 17:10). When we engage in
these activities, we are not able to say We are
profitable servants: weve done great things that ought to
bring glory to my name. No, just because God has required that
we do something to receive his gift of salvation, does
not mean that we save ourselves without the grace of God,
and hence have opportunity to boast.
Gods grace, coupled with our humble obedience and reliance
upon that grace, is how God saves the sinner by grace
through faith (v.8).
So what does that have to do with baptism? The phrase
not of works in this passage, does not refer
to baptism (obeying the Gospel). There is nothing in baptism or
obeying the Gospel to cause anyone to boast! How can anyone see any
grounds for boasting in believing in one who died for us (John
8:24), humbly repenting of sins (Luke 13:3), confessing faith in
Jesus (Rom. 10:10) and in surrendering ones will to God in
baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? Such acts
are acts of humiliation, not exaltation! Besides, when I turn over
to Colossians 2:12-13, I find that baptism is an operation of
God in which God forgives us of all trespasses. So if baptism
could be argued to be a work of any kind, it would have to be
affirmed that it is Gods work, and not mans, and,
certainly, theres no glory for man in that!
This proves all the more that Paul did not have
baptism, nor any other work of faith in mind when he wrote that we
are saved not of works, lest any man should boast.
Indeed, we are saved by grace through faith, but the
faith that saves is the faith that obeys, meriting nothing,
and yet gaining everything.
9540 Pine Cone Dr.
Cantonment, FL 32533
Table of Contents
I BELIEVE IN POSITIVE
Steven D. Cline
Throughout this great brotherhood, there seems to be a
renewed emphasis on positive preaching, ie., preaching upbuilding,
non-critical sermons on the good and, indeed, wonderful things in
the Bible. And I, for one, would like to announce to the
brotherhood that I believe in positive preaching!
What splendor we behold as the preacher exhorts on the
beauty and the glories of that eternally wonderful place called
Heaven! What happiness fills and overflows our hearts with joy when
we hear the speaker describe how we should love one another. How
happy yet humble we feel when we listen to the minister tell of the
grace of God that He bestows upon us, his undeserving, usually
unappreciative creatures. Oh yes! Let it be known...I believe in
positive preaching! May it continue! May it increase!
Yet, never let it be said that I believe in positive
preaching only. On the contrary, there is a place, and
furthermore, a need for negative preaching, ie., preaching
rebuking, reproving sermons on the darker things in the Bible.
We need to hear of the miserable consequences of sin. We
have to be reminded constantly that it is possible to become
lackadaisical (lazy) in our work and worship and thus slip into
apostasy. We must be told what Gods Holy Word teaches on
adultery, false teachers, and the horrors of Hell.
Apparently, God approves of both positive and negative
preaching. Hear His admonition unto Jeremiah: Then the
LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said
unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this
day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out,
and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down,
[negative] to build, and to plant [positive] (Jer.
Jesus believed in both types of preaching. He taught that
whosoever believes in Him shall be resurrected, never again to die
(John 11:25,26). He said that we should always do good unto our
neighbor (Luke 10:30-37). He admonished that his people should be
a forgiving folk (Matt. 6:14). Yet he also spoke of the torments of
Hell and that it is the eternal destiny of most (Matt.
7:13,14,21-23). He also talked of hypocrisy and publicly pinpointed
the Pharisees (Matt. 23, entire chapter).
Paul preached Gods grace (Eph. 2:8) and the greatness
of love (Rom. 5:8); yet he also warned of Gods wrath (Rom.
1:18; 2:4-6) and the danger of apostasy (Heb. 3:12).
John taught that we should love and fellowship one another
(I John 3:11,14); yet he also said that we should not bid God speed
to the false teacher (II John 9-11).
During my years in the church, I have been in
congregations that seldom touched the negative. Sin and Hell hardly
mentioned. On the other hand, Ive seen churches with almost no
positive. The members seemed to be afraid. Grace and love were
hardly spoken of.
Positive sermons? Yes. But completely? No.
Negative sermons? Indeed. But exclusively? By no means.
We may not like preaching negatively. I for one, have no
pleasure in preaching eternal torment, apostasy, etc. But Paul told
Timothy to preach the word (II Tim. 4:2). He never told
Timothy that he had to like what he preached, be it positive or
Yes, we must preach the positive AND we must also preach
However, let us make every endeavor to have a proper
balance in our preaching, ie., both positive and negative sermons,
and by so doing, be pleasing to the Master, for both types have a
positive goal, ie., to usher us into Heaven!
146 Valley Rd.
Waynesboro, VA 22780
Table of Contents
I thought the article in Novembers STOP on fellowshipping
denominations was right on target and Biblical. I did find it
interesting that the Bypass congregation in Idabel, Oklahoma, said
to stop sending it to them on the back of this very edition. On
Nov. 18, 2005, there was an article on the front page of the local
newspaper, the McCurtain Daily Gazette entitled, Local
churches serving more than just Thanksgiving dinner. I quote,
Members of the Bypass Church of Christ will be host to one of
the largest Thanksgiving dinners ever prepared in the county. ...
Other churches in the county will be sponsoring the meal as well.
Assembly of God, Haworth, First Baptist, Calvary Baptist and
Redland Methodist Church, Redland, will all join us for the special
day, said Brinkley. (Laura Nell Brinkley, church member). It
is interesting, but the Bypass congregation never even asked other
churches of Christ to participate. I wonder why? Then I see that
they no longer want to receive STOP, again, I wonder why? Anyway,
I thought you might find this interesting since Bypass no longer
wants to receive STOP. God bless ...Dan Fredman, Broken
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