THE ETHICS OF THE BIBLE
Jimmy W. Bates
There is a great need today for people to get back to the
Ethics of the Bible; that is, the standard of human
conduct and morality set forth in the Bible. What are the
principles and commands of the Bible as to our personal and
business dealings with one another? This study will deal with the
Biblical principles of Honesty, Integrity, Truthfulness,
Employer-employee relations and responsibilities, conduct and
respect toward our neighbors and civic responsibilities.
It is evident that our society, in general, has abandoned
the ethics of the Bible and has accepted humanistic philosophies
that are contrary to Gods Will. The philosophy of Humanism is
having a great influence upon the ethical and moral standard of our
society today. Humanism rejects God and all the super-natural
characteristics associated with God and asserts that man is the
supreme being in the universe. Humanists affirm that moral
values derive their source from human experience. Ethics are
autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological
sanction. Or, in other words, Gods standard of morality
and ethics is rejected, and each individual conducts himself by his
own standard of ethics and morality; that there is no set standard,
that ethics is situational, determined by the situation
in which one finds himself.
Were reminded of the moral decline of Gods
people in the time of the Judges when it is said that
every man did that which was right in his own eyes
(Judges 21:25). Its not difficult to see the decline and
degradation of morals and ethical conduct of our society because of
the influence of the humanistic philosophy. There is a general
decline among many in the Biblical principles of morality, honesty,
integrity, truthfulness, respect, being responsible, etc.; while
crime, violence, vandalism, disrespect, dishonesty, immorality,
irresponsibility, etc. is escalating.
Lets look at the Ethics of the Bible and see how God
expects us to conduct ourselves toward one another. These
principles are set forth in the following passages.
Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment. And
the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself, On these two commandments hang all the law and the
prophets. We must begin with supreme love for God and love for
our fellow man. If we begin with these, then the other commands of
Bible ethics will follow.
Matthew 7:12, Therefore all things whatsoever ye
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is
the law and the prophets. We often call this verse the
Golden Rule. This rule should be applied in all our
relationships with one another. It would eliminate many of the
problems we face; racially, socially, economically, and
Ephesians 4:31-32, Let all bitterness, and wrath,
and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you,
with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God for Christs sake hath
God demands that we be honest and truthful in our
personal and business dealings with one another. II Corinthians
8:21, Providing for honest things not only in the sight of the
Lord, but also in the sight of men. Romans 12:17,
...provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Philippians 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are
true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and
if there be any praise, think on these things.
Hebrews 13:18, Pray for us; for we trust we have a
good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
Ephesians 4:25, Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man
truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another.
Colossians 3:9, Lie not one to another.... Proverbs
6:16,17, God hates a lying tongue (cf. Rev. 21:8). James
5:12, ...but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay....
In other words, mean what you say and do what you say.
Let us be individuals of integrity that others may have
confidence in us, knowing that we will deal honestly and truthfully
with them. Psalm 25:21, Let integrity and uprightness preserve
me; for I wait on thee. Proverbs 11:3, The integrity of
the upright shall guide them; but the perverseness of transgressors
shall destroy them. It is sad that so many in our society have
abandoned the Bible ethics of honesty, integrity, and truthfulness
in their personal and business dealings with their fellow man!
God demands that we treat one another with respect and
that we respect the property of one another. Romans 12:10,
...in honor preferring one another. Philippians 2:3,
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in
lowliness of mind let each esteem other better that
themselves. Romans 13:9,10, For this, Thou shalt not
commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou
shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be
any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying,
namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no
ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the
law. Ephesians 4:28, Let him that stole steal no more;
but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is
good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
If more people observed and obeyed the Bible ethic of
respect for others and the property of others, we would have much
less crime, violence, vandalism, stealing, and the like.
God demands mutual respect, fairness and responsibility
in employer-employee relationships. Read Ephesians 6:5-9 and
Colossians 3:22 and 4:1. The principles set forth here with
reference to the master/servant relationships would apply to
employer/employee relationships. Employees are to give an honest
days work as if we were working for the Lord. Employers are to
give their employees that which is just and equal in the sight of
God with whom there is no respect of persons. Such is the
application of Matthew 7:12. The problems between employers and
employees would be eliminated if both followed Bible ethics.
God demands that we assume civic responsibilities -- that
we be law-abiding citizens. Romans 13:1-7, Let every soul be
subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God:
the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore
resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that
resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a
terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid
of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of
the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if
thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword
in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath
upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not
only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye
tribute also: for they are Gods ministers, attending
continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their
dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear
to whom fear; honor to whom honor. As long as civil law does
not go contrary to Gods law, we have a God-given
responsibility to obey and uphold civil law, including the paying
As a society of people, let us get back to following
Bible ethics (Gods standard of conduct and morality). The
well-being of our nation depends upon it. Proverbs 14:34,
Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any
people. The eternal destiny of our soul depends upon it
(II Cor. 5:10).
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Voices of the Past...
THE CHURCH AND THE BIBLE
L. O. Sanderson
Recently a radio speaker argued that what many people
overlooked was that the Bible did not produce the church, but
rather the church produced the Bible. Maybe we have been
overlooking this doctrine of man too much. The idea of
course is not a new one. It has been written and spoken by Catholic
leaders for many years. Really, the doctrine is vital to the
continuance of the institution which they foster. If the Bible
produced the church, then the church and its members would have to
submit to the Bible and its teaching rather than to the church. If
the church produced the Bible, then the same church which produced
the teaching could alter or revoke its work. Some religious
organizations, therefore, which elect to legislate their own
regulations, prefer to believe that the church produced the Bible.
The idea that the church produced the Bible, or even the
New Testament, in the sense of originating it, which is the only
sense in which the idea would be of much value, is not only false
and a sect-sponsored doctrine, but it is also a gross
misrepresentation of and reflection on the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit, as well as the divinity of the Scriptures. If the church
existed before the Word, then the church might have, though not
necessarily, produced it; but before the church was, the Word
existed. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). But the church was not
in existence then. Anything, therefore, that came before, could not
be produced by something later.
The church was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, and it
was only at hand in the days of John and Christ. John was
not even in the kingdom (Matt. 11:11). The church was still in the
future when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ (Matt.
16:18). The kingdom, or church, had not yet appeared when Christ
ascended (Acts 1:6). It was, however, in existence at the time of
Acts 2:47, for God added to it; and the church at Jerusalem was
scattered abroad, according to Acts 8:1. Now, if the church did not
exist at the time of Acts 1:6, and did exist at the time of Acts
2:47, then some time in between, the church had its beginning.
According to divine prophecy, Jerusalem was to be the
place of beginning, and the Law was to go forth from that city
(Isa. 2:2,3; Luke 24:46-49). The Holy Spirit was to come at the
time (Acts 1:8) and a special power was to come also (Mark 9:1).
All of this was to happen during the lifetime of some who were
standing there (Matt. 16:28). In view of these facts, with
consideration also that it must needs be between Acts 1:6 and 2:47,
there is but one place and time that it could begin -- on the first
Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, a record of which we
find in Acts 2. That was Jerusalem. The disciples were waiting
there until the power came. The Spirit came. The power came. There
the Gospel plan of salvation was first preached, right after that
the Lord added to the church (verse 47). The church at Jerusalem
became the first church -- the only church that had the right to be
referred to as the first church.
The church at Jerusalem did not produce the Word. The
Word produced the church. That was natural, even in the midst of
the supernatural events. The seed, the Word of God, was sown and
the seed brought forth fruit. After that, God set them in the
church (I Cor. 12:28). Peter, standing up with the eleven and
guided by the Holy Spirit, preached the Gospel to all gathered
there (Acts 2:14-36), and that as a fulfillment of the Old
Testament Scriptures, which had long since been in existence. Those
who obeyed the Word (Acts 2:37-39) were added to the church (verse
47). Peter did not produce those words -- the Holy Spirit gave
utterance to them. The Spirit brought to his remembrance what he
had already heard the Lord say. Peter could not be faithful and
teach otherwise (Matt. 28:20), and the words of Jesus had been
spoken long before the church began. Even Christ, the head of the
church, did not speak his own words, but the Will of the Father
(John 14:24-26). Peter did not produce his sermon; he reproduced
the Will of the Father which came to him through Jesus Christ and
the Old Testament Scriptures, and he was kept from error by the
Holy Spirit. So the Word confirmed by Peter became the means of
establishing the first church, the church at Jerusalem, and every
congregation established and every Christian made thereafter was
made in exactly the same manner. Some planted, some watered, but
God gave the increase (I Cor. 3:6,7).
The Old Testament, which foretold the establishment of
the kingdom of Christ, was a thing of the past when the church
began. The church could not have had a part in producing those
Scriptures. Every word spoken by Christ had already been uttered
when the church was born. The church did not produce the words of
Christ. Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit, the administrator of
the New Testament, in all that he said and wrote. Paul conferred
not with flesh and blood, nor with the other apostles concerning
his teaching or writing (Gal. 1:16,17). His message was delivered
directly to him (I Cor. 15:3). And certainly, the church had no
part in the production of the words of these men. Luke wrote what
Jesus began both to do and teach (Acts 1:1), which was
done and taught before the church began. John wrote concerning the
things which Jesus did in the presence of his disciples, many of
which things were not written (John 20:30). Mark wrote the
beginning of the gospel (Mark 1:1), not the beginning of
the church. Thus in no sense did the church produce anything about
the divine Will of God.
Yes, individual members of the body of Christ were the
instruments of God by which the Word was made known. God has always
used men through whom to speak to people. Moses was the mouthpiece
of God in giving the Law. Gods Word produced the Jewish
religion in that way. The nation of the Jews did not produce the
Law. The Father in heaven sent his Son to the earth to establish
Christianity, but the church did not produce the Son nor the Word
of God which he came to speak. A secretary writes a letter for her
employer, but she does not produce or originate the content of that
letter any more than some other typist who might copy it. The agent
at the depot writes a train order, but that does not mean that he
produces it. It has a source of origin, the dispatcher. The Lord
used men to prepare his Will, but it did not originate with those
men. If the church produced the Word, the Holy Spirit was useless.
If the church could have produced the Word, it seems peculiar that
so few men were given the special divine power necessary to the
writing of the New Testament. It just goes right back to sowing the
seed, and that produces the results.
But if you could prove that the church did produce the
New Testament, it would be of no help to Catholics. Their church
began a long time after the New Testament appeared. The Jews would
have to be credited with the work, and not the Romans. And even in
the copies of the originals and the translations from them, the
Catholic Church would be left out; the Greeks and others would be
credited with that work. And, besides, the church of the New
Testament, whether it produced the Word or the Word produced the
church, claims the reigning Christ as its head, and not some human
being in Rome.
The seed, the Word of God, is sown -- the church results.
The church must continue to obey that Word. It dare not add to
or take away. Certainly it cannot write a new
January 30, 1941
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JESUS PRAYER FOR UNITY
Roger D. Campbell
On more than one occasion, Jesus taught His disciples about
how to pray (Matt. 6:5-15; Luke 11:1-13). In addition, we often
read of the Master praying, sometimes when He was alone, and other
times when His followers were with Him. Prayer was, indeed, very
much a part of Jesus earthly sojourn and teaching.
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in John 17.
That chapter records the prayer that Jesus prayed just after He had
instructed His apostles about the coming Comforter or Holy Spirit
(John 14-16), and just before He went with the eleven to the Garden
of Gethsemane, where He was taken into custody (John 18). With the
exception of the first part of verse one, the entirety of John 17
(26 verses in all) is a record of words which Jesus spoke to His
In that notable prayer, sometimes called The
Lords Prayer, Jesus spoke to the Father about three main
matters which can basically be identified in the following manner.
First, He prayed for His relationship with the Father, that the Son
might be glorified (17:1-5). Next, He prayed for His special
servants, the apostles (17:6-19). Finally, He prayed for the
oneness or unity of those who would believe on Him (17:20-26).
The portion of Jesus prayer to which we now direct
our attention is the content of verses 20-23. There it is written,
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which
shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one;
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be
one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And
the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be
one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may
be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast
sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
What is the major thrust of this part of Jesus
prayer? It is His petition for unity or oneness
among those that will believe on Him. What can we learn about
this unity or oneness? In Jesus words we see --
1) The Lords DESIRE for oneness. For whom is Jesus
praying in this section? No longer for His apostles, but for those
that would believe on Him through the word of the apostles. How can
we be certain that Jesus really does desire oneness for such
believers? Look at how His thought is repeated: That they all
may be one ... that they may be one ... that they may be made
perfect in one (17:21,22,23). The emphasis is not difficult to
grasp: Jesus longs for unity. Any person or group of people that
opposes true unity in the spiritual realm is against the expressed
will of the Christ! If our King is for unity, then we
must give all diligence to carry out the Bibles instruction
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
2) The EXAMPLE of oneness. It is none other than the
oneness of the Father and the Son. Jesus twice referred to His
unity with the Father as the model for true oneness in the
spiritual realm: That they all may be one; as thou, Father,
art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us...that
they may be one, even as we are one (17:21,22). Could there be
a better example?
3) The BENEFIT of oneness. What possible good could come
about as a result of Jesus followers being united? Hear Him:
...that the world may believe that thou hast sent me...that
the world my know that thou has sent me... (17:21,23). The
unity of Gods people can be a strong force for evangelism.
Why? Because it is appealing to right-thinking people and can stir
them to seriously consider checking out what is so special about
Christianity. When they investigate the Gospel with an honest and
good heart, then they, too, will be moved to believe and obey it.
Yes, unity is a definite plus for the Cause of the Christ. Division
and strife, on the other hand, can turn people off and hinder them
from having interest in the Gospel. With that mindset, they will
4) The MEANS of oneness. There it is in verse 20:
through their word. How would people become believers in
the Christ? Through the message of the apostles. Remember, faith
comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17; cf. John 20:30,31).
The apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42) is the same as the
teaching of the Christ. The apostles are not the source of the Word
or Doctrine, but rather are simply its messengers. Through them the
Holy Spirit gave all truth to the world (John 16:13). So,
how do people become believers in the Christ? Through the Word. How
are people sanctified to the Lord? Same answer, through the
Word (17:17). And, how do we remain in fellowship with God? By
abiding in that same Word (II John 9), ever walking in the light (I
John 1:7). Thus, fellowship with God is achieved by obeying the
Word; then that fellowship is maintained, as is unity among the
saints, by abiding in His soul-saving Word. It is not mysterious or
beyond our comprehension.
5) The IMPORTANCE of unity. This is seen when one
considers the time element of this prayer. Jesus offered it on the
night of His betrayal. His crucifixion was only hours away, and
what was it that was on the Lords mind and lips? Unity. As we
noted in our first point above, Jesus strongly desired this unity.
Would that not also show its great importance?!
6) The POSSIBILITY of oneness. Some have concluded that
it simply is not possible for spiritual unity to exist. They point
to the vast divisions in the religious world, the division among
those that believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and even the
division that exists in the Lords church. Such absence of
unity cannot be denied. Yet, the lack of the unity for which the
Christ prayed, by no means warrants the conclusion that it is not
possible to achieve and maintain true unity. If our Lord prayed for
it, then it must be possible! Otherwise, His words about oneness
offer only a false hope. If the Lord wants us to pray in harmony
with the will of God (I John 5:14), then surely He Himself would
not pray for something (unity) that is contrary to the Fathers
will. If we or others are not scripturally united in our efforts to
serve Jesus, such is not the Lords fault, nor does our
division prove that His prayer for unity was fantasy and cannot be
How wonderful is the thought that Jesus prayed for you
and me on the night of His betrayal, when He was moving ever closer
to the time that He would drink the ultimate cup of suffering. His
prayer for unity, recorded in John 17:20-23, clearly shows the
desire, example, benefit, means, importance, and possibility of
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TEN RULES FOR IMPROVING
ATTITUDES IN THE CHURCH
Tell yourself over and over that since you are not perfect,
you would not fit into a perfect congregation if one
Instead of picking out the worldly members to point to,
select the sincere, dedicated, spiritual members, and thank God for
If you are old, treat the young with the consideration
you desired as a young person. If you are young, treat adults with
the respect you will want when you are mature.
When you are tempted to criticize others, be sure to pray
earnestly for them first. This may not change them, but it will do
wonders for your attitude.
When you see a work neglected, instead of being critical,
offer to help.
Never blame others for your own failures. Every
individual can be faithful to God in spite of the bad examples and
discouraging attitudes of others.
Remind yourself every day that the only way you can
improve the world or the church is to begin with self.
Consciously look for the good qualities in each brother
and sister in Christ; make a mental note of the good points each
Constantly strive to increase your circle of associates
in the church. Try to do something for each.
Every congregation has problems. Constantly ask yourself,
Am I a part of the problem, a part of the solution, or merely
a critical spectator?
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WILL THERE BE GOOD PEOPLE IN HELL?
Many times we hear people say or read in an obituary that,
My mother was a good person and she went home to be with her
Lord in heaven. If the individual had not obeyed the Gospel
and/or was not a faithful member of the Lords one true church,
this is only wishful thinking. The individual may have been a
good person, but being a good person is not the only
requirement for one to go to heaven. We read in II Thessalonians
1:7-9, And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the
Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in
flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that
obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished
with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and
from the glory of his power.
Even though one is a good person, if he has not obeyed
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, he will be eternally
lost in hell. Also, notice that those who do not know God will also
be lost in hell. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth
not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him
(I John 2:4). To not know God is to not keep his
commandments. Those who do not know God include those who once
obeyed the Gospel but fell away and quit keeping his commandments.
We cannot be good enough, on our own, to go to heaven.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
(Rom. 3:23). For the wages of sin is death
(Rom. 6:23). It is our sins that separate us from God (Isa.
One must obey what God says, how
God says, and for the reason God says if he is to go to
heaven and avoid hell. One must not obey any of the many different
plans of salvation which men have devised. One of mans plans
says that all you have to do to be saved and go to heaven is to
accept Jesus as your personal Saviour and say the
sinners prayer. Then a week or so later they baptize
the individual into their denomination, but not for the forgiveness
of sins so he can be saved because they say he is already saved.
Since one was not baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38;
22:16) so he can be saved (Mark 16:16), he still has every sin he
has ever committed and is still lost, even though he may be a
good person. I cannot think of a more flagrant crime
against both God and man than to teach lost sinners, who want to be
saved, something different than what God says in the Bible.
Mans plans will only lead one into hell.
For one to be saved and to go to heaven, Jesus says,
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved
(Mark 16:16). One has to have help to misunderstand this. What does
the Lord do with those who are saved according to his plan? Acts
2:47 says, And the Lord added to the church daily such as
should be saved. Then Jesus says, Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life
(Rev. 2:10). So we see from the Bible that those who die and
have not obeyed the Gospel of Christ, even though they are a
good person, will not be in heaven, but in hell. Also, we
see from the Bible that even though one has obeyed the Gospel but
forsakes the assemblies of the church (Heb. 10:25-26) and was not
faithful until death, even though he was otherwise a good
person, he will also be in hell.
Let no man deceive himself (I Cor.
3:18). Lets make sure that we and our loved ones have obeyed
the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and are faithfully serving him
in his church. We cannot wish ourselves or our loved ones out of
hell and into heaven. It will be too late then.
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UNITY, NOT DIVERSITY PREVAILED
Victor M. Eskew
Hours before His death, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for
oneness among His followers. Neither pray I for these
alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their
word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I
in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may
believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me
I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in
them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and
that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved
them, as thou hast loved me (John 17:20-23). Five times
the word one is used in these four verses. This oneness
for which Jesus prayed was to be like the oneness that exists
between Jesus and His Father. It was for oneness, not diversity
that the Son of God prayed.
In the first century church, we see that unity, not
diversity prevailed. The initial converts to Christianity continued
daily with one accord in the temple (Acts 2:46). When the
first persecution arose against the apostles, the church remained
unified. And the multitude of them that believed were of one
heart and one soul... (Acts 4:32). When Ananias and Sapphira
were severely disciplined for lying to the Holy Spirit, unity
continued to prevail among the believers. ...And they
were all with one accord in Solomons porch. And of the rest
durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
And the believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both
of men and women (Acts 5:12-14). The oneness of the
Lords disciples continues throughout the book of Acts. The
Samaritans entered the fold in Acts 8. In Acts 10, the Gentiles
were added to the body of Christ. Unity, not diversity prevailed as
the Gospel spread from the capital city of Jerusalem to the capital
city of Rome.
This unity is a strong rebuke to our present day
religious world. Those who proclaim faith in Christ are divided
into hundreds, yea, thousands of denominational groups. Most people
today feel that this division is healthy and good for the cause of
Christ. The concept of attend the church of your choice
is one that most accept. How this idea can be proclaimed when one
views the example of the first century church is beyond me. One has
to be deceived by Satan or dishonest with the Biblical text to
accept such a position.
Some denominational preachers and authors have seen the
contrast between the church of the Bible and the denominationalism
that exists in the twenty-first century. In his book, The Acts,
Charles R. Erdman wrote: Luke traced its
(Christianitys) extension throughout the Empire as far as
the city of Rome; he shows that it embraced representatives of many
nationalities and was established in many provinces, but was always
one unified body. In later days of denominational
divisions and of sectarian strife there is something refreshing,
inspiring, if not rebuking, in this picture of the
apostolic church (emp. mine, vme). Mr. Erdman saw and
acknowledged the truth in his statement. He knew the early church
was only one body. He also admitted that this unity rebukes the
denominationalism of our day. We desire that more would be as
honest as Mr. Erdman.
Dear reader, unity, not diversity prevailed in apostolic
times. This is what the Lord desired and is that for which He
prayed. As long as the religious world remains divided, it stands
in opposition to the teaching of the New Testament. Now
I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among
you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and
in the same judgment (I Cor. 1:10).
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TRUTH AND CONTROVERSY
It is a recognized fact among those who seek to follow God
that truth is absolute and attainable. We do not deny this. While
some would have us believe that truth is subjective and elusive,
the words of Jesus that ye shall know the truth and the truth
shall make you free serve as our compass in these matters. In
addition to truth being absolute, it is also dogmatic to the core.
Two plus two equals four -- there is no room for error. Sincerity
of heart or honesty of motive does not annul this fact. Truth is
also narrow. A college teacher writes the problem on the board.
Twelve divided by two equals six. There is absolutely no room for
deviation. The answer is NOT seven, nor is it five. But society
does not argue, nor do they accuse the mathematician of being
unloving, unkind, or bigoted.
Now we move to the truth that makes men free.
It is not mathematical truth, nor is it scientific truth, but that
which is revealed from God Almighty through holy men moved by
the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:21). This truth is dogmatic to the
core. It will not co-exist with error, nor can it. By its very
nature it is narrow in its application. But unlike the mathematical
truth that two plus two equals four, or twelve divided by two
equals six, this truth of which we speak has eternal
consequences. But how do men react when faced with this truth?
Sincerity is placed above simplicity, and feelings take precedence
over fact. Men become angry at the truth because it restricts their
freedom to act and behave in their own chosen way. Rather than
simply accept the truth and obey it, they argue with the facts
presented, become agitated at the one speaking the truth, and close
their ears and heart, as if their rejection of the same will annul
their responsibility toward those things spoken.
Since the truth and only the truth will set me free, it
would seem that all men, everywhere, would have such a disposition
as to receive the truth at all costs. May we be like the Bereans
who were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they
received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the
scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).
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Marvin L. Weir
It has always amazed me that so many profess to read and
study their Bible and yet believe that salvation is unconditional.
Far too many people (including many brethren) have bought into the
devils doctrine of salvation by faith and grace
only. One must have faith to become a child of God and it is
only by the grace of God that such is possible. Without faith and
Gods grace, one cannot successfully live the Christian life.
God has always set forth conditions for one to comply with in order
to be a recipient of His grace. Even Gods only begotten Son,
Jesus Christ, is a case in point. The Scriptures reveal,
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience...he became the
author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him
The apostle Paul rebuked the Galatian brethren in saying,
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called
you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not
another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the
gospel of Christ (Gal. 1:6-7). One can move away from
Gods grace after having Scripturally received it. This point
is made absolutely clear when Paul tells the Roman brethren,
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace
may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any
longer therein (Rom. 6:1-2)? One should then not be
surprised that Paul would plead with the Corinthian brethren,
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that
your labor is not vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let
us learn several lessons from this passage of Scripture.
First, Paul is speaking only to members of the
Lords church (New Testament Christians). The Corinthians
that Paul addresses are his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.
A non-Christian may be kind and do many good deeds but his labor is
in vain. Jesus words are still true today: Except one be
born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God (John 3:5)! One who seeks to worship God but has not
obeyed the Gospel, worships in vain (cf. Matt. 15:7-9). One must be
a member of the Lords church to lay up treasures in Heaven
(cf. Matt. 6:19-20).
Second, Christians are to be steadfast and
unmoveable in sacred matters. The hope of salvation
(I Thess. 5:8) is rooted and grounded in the precious Gospel (Col.
1:5). There is only one legitimate hope (Eph. 4:4) and
all people are called (II Thess. 2:14) and
saved (Rom. 1:16) by the Gospel. But one can drift and
move away from the Gospel -- his only hope! Paul warns his
Colossian brethren, If ye continue in the faith grounded and
settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which
ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is
under heaven... (Col. 1:23).
The Gospel does not change or move. Neither God nor
Christ changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). It is men who seek to change
the Gospel to please themselves and others! The words that Christ
spake are the words that will judge each of us in the Day of
Judgment (John 12:48).
A faithful child of God will absolutely refuse to move
away from the Lords commands. It is sad that many brethren who
knew the way of righteousness have turned back (moved
away) from Gods Holy Word (II Peter 2:20-22). As Paul said of
some brethren, For the time will come when they will not
endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to
themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away
their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (II
Tim. 4:3-4). One cannot move away from Gods truth and expect
to go to Heaven!
Third, a Christian will abound in the work of the
kingdom. This is not one doing only what is necessary to get
by, but one goes beyond and richly abounds (overflows) in his work
for the Lord. One will also notice that he must abound in
the work of the Lord. To abound in the work of
men that follow man-made creeds will doom one to failure!
Fourth, it can only be said of labor for the Lord
that it is not in vain. The wise man declared, I have
seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is
vanity and vexation of spirit (Eccl. 1:14). And again, I
considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man
is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of
spirit (Eccl. 4:4). All we do in this world will one day be
left to someone else, and who knows whether he will be wise or
foolish (cf. Eccl. 2:18-19). Thus, let us abound in the Lords
work, lay up our treasures in Heaven, for where your treasure
is, there will your heart be also (Matt. 6:19-21).
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