22570 Old Tyler Highway,
Troup, Texas 75789
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John M. Grubb
This is a variation of the title of a page in a recent bulletin of the Westlake Church of Christ to advertize the upcoming "Heartland" workshop to be conducted in Indianapolis July 10-13, 1996.
In Westlake's bulletin, seven of the scheduled speakers are listed with the title of their assigned lessons and a short summary of the theme of each lesson. According to this article, these seven speakers are the "top seven reasons" for attending this workshop.
In this article we shall look at the top seven reasons for "NOT" attending this effort.
1. The speakers on this program are a reason for not attending this workshop. This year's speakers include: Mike Cope, Rubel Sbelly, Marvin Phillips, Jim Woodroof, Bob Hendren, Harold Redd and Paul Watson. For those who are informed, most of these names are very familiar. Mike Cope and Rubel Shelly are the editors of Wineskins. This paper is leading the way in attempting to change the direction of the church. One article in this magazine questioned the purity of the mother of Jesus. Marvin Phillips is involved in the Tulsa Workshop and has taught classes in a Christian Church college. Jim Woodroof is well know for his false position on marriage- divorce-remarriage, as well as his latest book, The Church in Transition. This book is just another in the effort to promote "unity-in-diversity." Bob Hendren fits into this group very comfortably. During the 1970's and 1980's, he often appeared on programs with those leading the Crossroads Movement. I'm not familiar with Paul Watson and Harold Redd, but they indicate, by their participation in this effort, they are in fellowship and agreement with these false teachers.
2. Another reason for "not" attending is: We would have fellowship with false teachers. The Bible teaches: 9"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 9-11). The "doctrine of Christ" does not simply mean the doctrine about Christ, but the teaching that comes from Christ. When Jesus warned the disciples concerning the Pharisees and Sadducees, "Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:12). The "doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" does not mean the doctrine about the Pharisees and Sadducees, but the teaching that comes from them. Paul added: 17"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17-18). "And have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). To support this workshop is to violate these passages.
3. These kinds of workshops let the wolves into the sheepfold. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, 28"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 29:28-30). Elders are the shepherds of the flock. These false teachers are "ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15-20). Faithful shepherds would never allow the wolves inside the sheepfold. In speaking of the work of elders, Paul said: 9"Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:9-11). When elders allow and even encourage their members to attend this kind of effort, they are not fulfilling their obligations to God.
4. Faithful congregations and Christians do not support this kind of workshop. Garfield Heights, Shelbyville Road, West Newton, and possibly a few other congregations in the city of Indianapolis do not support this workshop. There are other congregations in the state of Indiana who refuse to have a part in this workshop. These congregations are trying to set the proper example to others by "not bidding godspeed" to this effort.
5. We should speak out against efforts that are being made to change the church into "a denomination among denominations." The church is not a denomination (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:3-6)! Again, we urge brethren not to support this effort and to speak out against it. If you are meeting with a congregation which continues to support false teachers and their teachings, we urge you to speak to the elders about these matters. If they will not hear, we urge you to "come out from among them" (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).
6. We need to use our influence for good, not evil. It is not easy to take a stand for the truth. We need to make sure we are using our influence for good, not for evil. To support this workshop is to use our influence for evil.
7. As the song says, "I've Got Better Things To Do." The last reason we give in this article for not attending this workshop is that we can use our time in better ways. Instead of going to this kind of workshop, choose a faithful lectureship or mission forum that features speakers who are true to the Book. Use your funds to support the preaching of the gospel to a lost and dying world.
There will be a number of brethren who will attend this workshop. Some will attend because they do not know the reasons for staying away. It is our hope that this article will give some of them time to pause and reflect upon lending their good name and influence to an effort that does not promote New Testament Christianity.
2842 Shelby St.,
Indianapolis, IN 46203
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Churches of Christ are in trying times. Pressure from the world has caused many congregations to compromise. Worldliness and false teaching are rampant, dividing and injuring the body of Christ.
What should members, especially elders and preachers, do about these internal problems? Most agree that we should deal with them. But some are advocating a "hush-hush" approach. Their popular cliche is, "Don't air your dirty laundry before the world." Deal with the problems, they advise, but don't let outsiders know about this internal strife. They contend that people will be discouraged from becoming members of the church if they hear that we have such problems.
It is true that we do not need to broadcast every church problem to the world. But some points of division are of such a public and damaging nature that they need to be addressed before outsiders. In fact, some of our laundry has become so dirty that outsiders are airing it for us.
Edward Fudge in The Fire That Consumes teaches that hell is temporary and that the wicked will be annihilated. Fudge is a member of the Bering Drive Church of Christ in Houston, Texas. Robert A. Peterson, an elder in the Presbyterian church, called Fudge "a churches of Christ layman" who is a "false witness" on the subject of hell.1 Robert A. Morey, preacher for the New Life Bible Church, called Fudge's doctrine "feeble" and "absurd."2 Several churches of Christ endorse and participate in Promise Keepers, an interdenominational men's movement that promotes fellowship with anyone who merely believes that Jesus is God's Son. Max Lucado, preacher for the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, Texas, was a key speaker at the 1996 Promise Keepers gathering in Atlanta. Rubel Shelly, preacher at the Woodmont Hills church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee, said that "God was the author of the event."3 Jack Stephens, preacher for the Open Bible Fellowship Church in Columbus, Ohio wrote a scathing rebuke of Promise Keepers.4 He said "the atmosphere is anything but spiritual" at these hyped events and criticized the movement's ecumenical stance.
Another apostate movement in churches of Christ is the A. D. 70 doctrine. This teaching made popular by Max King, asserts that the second coming of Christ, the resurrection and the judgment were all fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A Christian church journal recently denounced this teaching as "a doctrine of no hope and a supplanter of the blessed hope of the church."5 The dirty laundry of the apostate Boston Church of Christ has been aired on the national television program 20/20 and by various information groups including the Chicago-based Cult Awareness Network.
Much of the false teaching in Churches of Christ is not being done in a corner. Its promoters are using television, radio, books, and other public channels to spread their error. They have already shown the world their dirty laundry! If these preachers have promoted their error before the world, then it is incumbent upon us to refute this error before the world. If we are really concerned about what the world thinks of us, should we not let them know that we do not agree with their error?
I do not think less of a religious group when it is open about its problems. In fact, I appreciate their forthrightness. I may not agree with them on many points, but I respect their courage in exposing doctrines that are manifestly false. Martin Luther aired the dirty laundry of the Catholic church, and even those who do not fellowship the Lutheran church praise him for this exposure. The Southern Baptist Convention wrestled with division over the inerrancy of Scripture and the role of women in the 1980's. These controversies were highly publicized. Similarly, a former preacher of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, recently wrote a book exposing the politics and corruption in this large denominational church. Most mainline denominations are experiencing division over issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Yet we do not criticize these groups when they publicly condemn their own for upholding these sins. We do not say, "They should keep their dirty laundry to themselves."
God did not keep the false teaching and open sin of the Israelites a secret from other nations. He warned that Israel would become "a byword among all people" if they departed from Him (1 Kings 9:6-9). The Babylonians knew about the internal problems of Judah, and they respected Jeremiah for his courage in exposing his people (Jer. 39:11-12; 40:1-4).
The same is true in the New Testament. When Ananias and Sapphira died because of their sin, "great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things" (Acts 5:11). Public knowledge of this internal church problem caused the fear of God to come upon outsiders. Also, non-Christians visited the worship assemblies of the church in the New Testament (1 Cor. 14:23-25). Since the preacher is to reprove and rebuke those in sin, including members (2 Tim. 4:2), is not this "airing dirty laundry" before nonmembers?
Those who make the dirty laundry plea are often inconsistent. Some of them speak and write publicly against those of us who publicly expose false brethren. Can you reconcile their actions with their words? They air "dirty laundry" concerning the airing of dirty laundry!
The world knows more about us than we sometimes realize. Denominational preachers, in public debates with gospel preachers, have for years delighted in exposing division in the church. Communities are well aware that some churches of Christ are anti- cooperation. And, now they are hearing good words and fair speeches from the voices and pens of preachers among us. God forbid that we should sweep these problems under a rug.
P.O. Box 865,
Cookeville, TN 38502
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Victor M. Eskew
The dictionary defines "synonym" as "a word or expression accepted as a figurative or symbolic substitute for another word or expression." This term is of importance to Bible students in that the Bible frequently employs synonyms in its pages. For example, the term "church" is called "the body," "the kingdom," "the bride of Christ," "a vineyard." Each of the terms have reference to the same institution, the church, but emphasize different aspects of it.
Synonyms are used in regard to many persons or subjects. The synonyms we wish to discuss in this article are those connected with the gospel. This study is much needed in the church today for some are teaching there is a distinction to be made between the gospel and some of its synonyms. But the fact is, that when the Bible uses either the word "gospel" or one of its synonyms, it has reference to the same thing, as the very definition of the synonym tells us. What are some of the synonyms for "the gospel?"
One term synonymous with the gospel is "doctrine." "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:16). Would any dare contend that the doctrine is not the same as the gospel?
"The faith" is another synonym for the gospel. "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Another word synonymous with gospel is "law." Paul wrote these words to the saints in Rome. "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).
Another word for gospel is "truth." Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Our Lord himself confirmed this parallel in John 17:17. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."
Another synonym is "covenant." "But now he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. 8:6).
Along this same line of discussion, we want to point out the synonymous ways of stating the phrase, "obedience to the gospel."
One way is seen in the expression "abide in the doctrine." "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9).
"Obedient to the faith" is the same as obeying the gospel. "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).
"Continuing in the law" is another like- expression for obedience to the gospel. "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25).
"Walking in truth" is another synonymous phrase for obedience to the gospel. Second John 4 reads: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we received a commandment from the Father."
The statement "doing the word," is also a representation of obedience to the gospel. "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22).
These phrases need to be studied just like the various words for gospel need to be studied. Some preachers and teachers are attempting to draw lines between these expressions. They would have us believe that obeying the gospel and walking in truth are not the same. They preach we are to obey the gospel to be saved, but that we do not have to continue in the law of Christ to be saved. Such is foolishness. For if one obeys the gospel, he is also doing all of the other actions noted above. If not, why not? They are all synonymous phrases.
We need to be very attentive as we listen to the gospel being proclaimed. We need to be as the noble Bereans and search the scriptures to see whether the things which are spoken are so. Many today are attempting to make simple things difficult. Their attempts are leading to confusion and false teaching. Let each of us study (2 Tim. 2:15), and then stand on the bedrock of truth!
400 Cherry Rd.,
Paragould, AR 72450
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In Exodus 17 we find the children of Israel in Rephidim, a place without substance for survival. Would it be a small thing for the God in heaven to provide substance for his people? They had already witnessed his mighty hand in action as he dealt with Pharaoh and delivered his people from bondage. Yet, we see the Israelites chiding Moses, murmuring and tempting Jehovah in the wilderness. They cried, "Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst" (v.3)?
In accordance with the Abrahamic promise, God vouchsafed a miracle for a permanent supply of water during the Hebrew's abode in Sinai. Moses was commanded to go before the people, with the elders, and smite the rock in Horeb and water flowed out of it. This place was now referred to as Massah (temptation) and Meriba (chiding or strife) in memory of the Hebrew's rebellion and their doubting Jehovah's presence among them.
Deuteronomy 9:21 discusses the "brook that descended out of the mount." In retrospect the psalmist wrote, "He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers" (Psalm 78:15-16). And, again in Psalm 105:41 we read, "He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river." We should not be surprised to learn that the rock followed them as they journeyed in the wilderness. Further, Paul informs us "that rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). We have a wonderful illustration of a gracious, merciful, benevolent God caring for his people in a place in which they could not care for themselves. We, too, live in a place in which we are unable to care for ourselves spiritually. What a blessing to know that that rock, Christ, still follows us today. Jesus, the benevolent one, offers mankind "living water" (John 4:10). Water of which the consumer "shall never thirst" (John 4:14). Those arrayed in white are led by the Lamb to these "living fountains of waters" (Rev. 7:13-17). Without this water, mankind will dry up and wither away into the second death, of which no one will overcome. Let us consider two points as we analyze these thoughts.
First, as Revelation bears out, only those arrayed in white will enjoy this fountain of life. Man in sin is portrayed in Isaiah as "and unclean thing." Isaiah continues his inspired description by stating, "all our righteousness are as filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6). Isaiah's similitude is rectified by the metaphor of Revelation 7:14. That is to say that our rags are washed clean and made white in the Lamb's blood. Peter said that man purifies his soul "in obeying the truth" (1 Peter 1:22). The pattern or form by which this purification is accomplished is written for us in Romans 6:1-6,16-17. Therefore, in righteousness, Peter was able to declare that "baptism doth also now save us." Only one baptized into Christ can enjoy this living water.
Second, we need to be ever mindful that the unrepentant murmurers perished in the wilderness. The wilderness wandering was a shadow of our Christian sojourn on this earth. In order for a Christian to enjoy this living water for evermore, he must live faithfully to the end. The cares of this life should never come between the Christian and God. The Devil is extremely good at his art of deception. He places a great deal of pressure on the Christian to forsake assembling with other saints. Reasons are freely supplied why one cannot attend Bible classes and worship services. The Devil knows that as he begins to separate a Christian from the congregation, the Christian begins to die. Physically, we could make similar application to a man being separated from his water supply.
As the child of God begins to remove himself from his source of substance, he begins to murmur, complain and tempt the Lord. Chiding is then rendered against the Lord's elders, Bible class teachers, the preaching and worship services. All of this is the fruit of rejecting the Lord.
I realize that faithful attendance alone does not constitute fidelity to God. Equally true is the fact that slothful attendance (Wednesday evening and Bible studies included) is the fruit of infidelity. When one has a bad day at work and decides that he is too upset to attend services, he is dying spiritually. When one reasons that family pressures take precedent over the Lord's church, he is quenching his thirst for truth. Will a man go for days without consuming water because he is tired, lazy, unhappy, or simply too busy to stop for a drink? Only if suicide is on his mind. We should have the same conception with the spiritual side of life.
The bodies of the unfaithful were strewn across the wilderness. Man should learn from the mistakes of long ago. Our merciful God is supplying us with the opportunity to drink of that rock and live for evermore. Each person cutting himself off from the Lord's merciful hand will be strewn into the second death. Let us as Christians live faithfully to the very end and receive that crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
P.O. Box 1385,
Gilbert, AZ 85299
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Robin W. Haley
In the chart that accompanies this brief article (entitled Spiritual Gifts,) please note that some contend that a woman may take a lead in public assemblies because (as they allege) 1 Corinthians 14, being a special, miraculous setting, does not apply to any situation today. Since this is true (they allege), the instructions found within that chapter do not apply to any situation or person living today.         First, let me respond by saying that 1 Corinthians 14 does not stand alone in this New Testament book. It is found within a context that began back in chapter 11 and will include actions which were addressed in chapters 11, 12, 13, and 16. Why leave chapter 14 out? Because of what the teaching there does to the "justification" offered which allows women to take a leading role in teaching an assembly which includes men: it destroys it! If chapter 14 does not apply, what about chapter 11 (Lord's supper) or chapter 16 (contribution)?
If it is the case that the presence of miracles in a setting recorded within the Bible indicates that what is found and taught there does not apply to us nor to any setting today, there is very little we can learn and use from the Bible. After all, what setting as found within the New Testament was not special?
Notice from the chart how many contexts have been affected by this error.
The great commission is affected by this false concept. How can we do what Mark 16 teaches since miracles were involved? The command from Pentecost is no longer valid because of the miracles earlier found in Acts two. The example of the Samaritans is gone because of the miracles in Acts 8:6-7. The frequency of the Lord's supper is affected because of Paul's inspired discourse and the raising of Eutychus. Finally, the explanation of calling on the name of the Lord being baptism to wash away sins is impaired because of Saul of Tarsus' healing! Oh, what hash is made of the Scripture when men try to justify the unjustifiable!
912 E. Teresa,
Sapulpa, OK 74066
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