In This Issue...
WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH BRETHREN WHO HAVE ERRED FROM THE TRUTH?
Roger D. Campbell
"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one
convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from
the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide
a multitude of sins" (James 5:19,20). This passage shows it
is possible for a brother in Christ who was living in or by the
truth to err from it. The Holy Spirit calls the one who has left
the truth "a sinner," and describes his condition as "death." In
other words, a child of God who is no longer abiding in the truth
is spiritually dead or separated from God (Eph. 2:1). When this
happens, what should you and I do?
We must recognize that because the church is made up of
people, there are sometimes going to be problems and even sin in
it. Christians are people, and people sometimes make wrong
decisions, some of which are transgressions of God's will. The
Bible truth about Christians is: "If we say that we have no
sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1
John 1:8). Some saints to whom the book of James was originally
written were sinning by respecting persons (James 2:1-9). Some in
Rome were causing divisions and offences in the church (Rom.
16:17,18). The church in Corinth had members who were carnal, and
one brother there was a fornicator (1 Cor. 3:1-4; 5:1-13). The
churches of Galatia were troubled by those who perverted the Gospel
(Gal. 1:6-8). In Thessalonica some members of the church were
walking disorderly and not working (2 Thess. 3:10-12). Jesus
clearly pointed out the sin that existed in the churches of Asia,
and called upon the transgressors to repent (Rev. 2,3).
What do the above-mentioned examples show? Do they prove
God approves of sin? No! Do they show the church must tolerate sin?
No! What they show is that due to weakness of the flesh, God's
children sometimes sin. Is there anything the church can do to help
prevent members from falling away from Christ? Yes, it can
diligently teach the Bible to all members in order to strengthen
them. It can give its greatest effort to exhort and encourage every
member to be faithful to Christ, and it can provide an atmosphere
of love in which all members feel like we are really one family.
These are some basic, but essential steps, that the church (that
means you and me) can take to try to provide for a healthy
spiritual environment in the local congregation. But the reality is
that despite such actions, from time to time, members of the church
are going to sin. When a child of God sins, how can the problem be
resolved? The one who has sinned must confess his sin (1 John 1:9),
repent and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22). If others know
of the sin which he has committed, then he must confess it to them
as well as to God (James 5:16). God promises to forgive us of all
our unrighteousness if we truly turn away from our sin.
What about the case when a member of the church sins, does
not want to repent, and continues to live in sin? How should we
treat such brothers and sisters? First of all, we must identify
them. We first need to find out for certain they are living in
sin before we put them on a "list of the unfaithful." Sometimes we
hear rumors about other people, but when we begin to search into
the matter, we find the rumors are not true at all. Surely we do
not want to accuse anyone of leaving the truth without proof.
King Saul desired to kill David, partly because he
believed what some were telling about David, although those things
were not true (1 Samuel 24:9,10). This example plainly shows that
rumors are not proof! Before we begin to speak about a member of
the church as living "unfaithfully," we need to hear the whole
matter, in other words, gather all the information before making a
conclusion. Let us remember this truth: "He that answereth a
matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him"
(Prov. 18:13). Again, let us find out for certain that one is truly
not walking in the light (1 John 1:7) before we begin to talk about
how to "bring him back." We have known of some cases in which
congregations heard and accepted false information, and as a result
accused brethren of living in sin, when in reality the brethren who
were so accused were completely innocent. Brethren, let us be very
careful in this affair and be certain that we try "to restore" only
those who are truly living in sin.
After we are certain that a brother or sister is truly not
living in harmony with God's word, it is necessary that we
maintain a proper attitude toward such a person. First,
consider what would be the improper attitude to manifest in such a
case. If we see that a member of Christ's body is living in sin,
then it would certainly be out of place for us to rejoice because
he has fallen away! There should be no joy in seeing one separated
from his Creator and Savior. Also, it would be wrong for us to be
indifferent to the spiritual danger of our brother or sister. If we
just do not care about another's departure from his Lord, then our
own heart is not right before God. In addition, when we see a
member of the church living in sin, it would be inappropriate for
us to approve of their action, support them in it, and defend their
lawlessness. Yet, this is the very thing that some do today. Such
action is wrong!
What would be the proper attitude toward brethren who are
living in sin? Each of us should be filled with sorrow
when we think about a member of God's family going astray as a
sheep leaving his shepherd. Such should cause us to be moved
with compassion to try to help them. When a member of our
physical family dies, it is a natural thing for us to mourn over
their death and our loss. The church is God's family (1 Tim. 3:15),
so would it not be proper to be saddened and weep over one of His
children who have died spiritually? Of course it would. We must
continue to love those brethren who are living in sin.
Three parables of Jesus about God's love for sinners are recorded
in Luke 15: parable of the lost sheep, parable of the lost coin and
parable of the lost son ("prodigal son"). If we are going to
imitate the attitude that our Heavenly Father has towards those who
are lost, then we will continue to love our brethren who have
departed from the truth.
Finally, a proper attitude toward the erring would include
understanding and admitting they need help, God's help
and ours. They need faithful Christians to help them bear their
burdens. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which
are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one
another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal.
When we see that a child of God has left the faith, then
we must resolve in our hearts to take action. We must
give our greatest efforts to bring them back to Christ. When a
member of the church has become unfaithful, then we must have one
goal: help them return to their first love so their soul can be
saved! Do you remember James 5:20? "...He which converteth the
sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death."
That is what we want to do, help save a soul! Paul charged
the church in Corinth to take action against a fornicator in the
church in order that "the spirit may be saved in the day of
the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5). We must try to restore those
who have fallen (Gal. 6:1,2). True, we will not be successful every
time we try to bring people back to their first love, but still we
must give our best effort. We must not just sit and do nothing
while our brothers and sisters are walking on the road to hell. We
must act in order to help them and so that their blood will not be
upon our hands (Acts 20:26).
How can we act to help those who have fallen away? Some
seem to think we should do nothing and just hope the erring will
someday on their own decide to repent, because as you know, we
cannot force people to do what is right. True, we cannot force
people to repent, but if we truly are concerned about them, we will
not just sit and be quiet, but will take action!
In order to bring the unfaithful back to Christ, it would
also be inappropriate to promise them that if they will return,
then we will allow them to teach a Bible class. We have heard of
cases where this has taken place, but we must note that when one is
living in sin we do not have the right to "bargain" with him or
"bribe" him. If a brother truly repents, then perhaps after a
period of faithful service, the church might ask him to teach a
Bible class, but that should never be the motivation that is used
to get him back. Sometimes it is suggested that if we will allow an
unfaithful brother to lead prayers or singing during services,
maybe this will encourage him to repent. Brethren, the order in the
above-described actions is just the opposite of what it should be!
A brother who is in error must first repent, then, and only then,
should we ask him to lead in some part of public worship, for those
who lead in prayer (and other aspects of worship) must be those who
are holy (1 Tim. 2:8). It would also be totally out of place to say
to an erring member, "If you will just come back and attend
services regularly, then we will just forget about what happened."
Where is that concept in the Bible? If one does not truly repent of
his sins, then it does not matter what you and I might promise him,
he is still dead in sin and separated from God. We must not lose
sight of this fact. When a Christian leaves the Lord and will not
repent, he is lost!
In some congregations, when a member falls away and a
considerable period of time has passed, someone simply takes the
fallen person's picture off the wall (or takes it out of the
church's picture directory) and removes his name from the
membership list. While such action might be proper sometime in the
future, it should not be the first, and absolutely not the only
action taken. If we really love those who have left the faith, then
their departure is worthy of more of our time and effort than
simply removing a picture and a name on a list!
We would love to see 100% of the members of the church be
faithful, but that just does not happen.
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THE UNITY CHRIST DEMANDS #2
Garland M. Robinson
The unity which Christ demands requires that we be neither
Catholic, Protestant nor Jew. It is hard for many to comprehend
this because they believe everyone has to be one or the other. Yet
New Testament Christians are neither. We are just Christians. We
are not any "kind" of Christians, we're just Christians. The Bible
knows nothing of Methodist Christians, Baptist Christians, Lutheran
Christians. All denominational churches in the world were begun by
men, not Christ; in many parts of the world, not Jerusalem;
centuries after the apostles, not 33 A.D. They all began at the
wrong place, at the wrong time, by the wrong men. Since they are
plants which the heavenly Father did not plant, they will all be
rooted up and cast into an eternal lake of fire (Matt. 15:13; Rev.
UNITY AT ANY PRICE?
God does not approve of all unity nor does He condemn
all division. There are times we must not be united. Many
passages tell us so. When one (or more) is in error and will not
repent, fellowship can not and must not, be maintained.
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the
Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you"
(2 Cor. 6:17). The teaching of church discipline shows that
fellowship (unity) cannot be continued with those who will not
repent (1 Cor. 5). The faithful must withdraw themselves from those
who do not love and practice the truth (1 Tim. 6:5). Those who
teach contrary to sound doctrine are to be marked and avoided (Rom.
16:17-18; Titus 1:9). We are to "...have no fellowship with
the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them"
BARRIERS TO UNITY
Compromise among children of God today is rampant. So
little concern is shown for the Lord's Way. Lectureships and
seminars are many which promote everything from instrumental music
to holy roller pep-rallies. Like Elymas the sorcerer, they stand
against the faithful proclamation of God's Word and do not cease to
pervert the right ways of the Lord (Acts 13:8-10). They are full of
all subtilty and all mischief. They are children of the devil and
enemies of all righteousness. Their eyes are full of adultery and
cannot cease from sin. They beguile unstable souls and their heart
they have exercised with covetous practices. They are as cursed
children and have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray,
following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages
of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:14-15). Jude said, "But these
speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know
naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt
themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,
and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished
in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of
charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:
clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose
fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the
roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;
wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for
ever" (Jude 10-13).
On the personal side, I love peace. I hate controversy.
I deplore wrangling and contention. I would love to get along with
everyone. However, I love the Way of the Lord more. I love it more
than my own personal feelings. The Bible warns of those who depart
from the faith and exhorts us to hold stedfast. "Now the
Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall
depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and
doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1). "Therefore, my
beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in
the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not
in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
As much as we might love peace and hate controversy, we
must understand there can be no peace until there is purity first
-- purity of doctrine -- soundness in the faith. "But the
wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17).
Bible unity, which is the only God-approved unity, will not be
achieved until those who truly desire it submit themselves to a
"thus saith the Lord." They must love book, chapter and
verse teaching and preaching. They must do all in the name of the
Lord (Col. 3:17).
There are many barriers to unity. We would do well to
learn some of them so we might avoid them.
Not accepting the Scriptures as the divine Word
of God is a barrier to unity. The Bible is the all-inspired word of
God. It is without flaw or error. It is consistent with itself.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
"...His divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that
hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).
Not knowing the Scriptures is a barrier to unity.
Since the Bible is the only acceptable standard on which unity is
based, we cannot have unity without knowing what the Scriptures
require. Even as a young boy of twelve, Jesus knew the Scriptures.
"And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in
the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them,
and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished
at his understanding and answers" (Luke 2:46-47). "Study
to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
Not respecting the Scriptures is a barrier to
unity. To respect the Scriptures is to recognize their authority.
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of
the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him"
(Col. 3:17). To do something in "the name of the Lord" means to do
as the Lord has authorized. We must have Bible authority for all we
say and do. To act without authority is to act apart from the
Scriptures which ignores the Lord's commands.
Not obeying the Scriptures is a barrier to unity.
The Lord will only save those who obey Him. "Not every one
that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven"
(Matt. 7:21). Jesus is "...the author of eternal
salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb. 5:8-9). He said,
"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which
I say" (Luke 6:46)?
Not demanding that others follow the Scriptures
is a barrier to unity. It's not enough for some to obey the
Scriptures while others do not. Everyone must obey the Lord's Word.
The Bible "...is the power of God unto salvation to every
one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek"
(Rom. 1:16). Those who "believe" are those who obey. "If
ye love me, ye will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John
Accepting standards God did not authorize is a
barrier to unity. Many accept what men say and count it equal or
even above what God says. Laws and doctrines are accepted by
councils, synods, conferences, catechisms, creeds and manuals. The
book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants and
Science and Key to the Scriptures are but a few standards accepted
by many. All will perish with the using for they are not the Word
of God. There is but one holy divine Word--the Bible.
Making laws God did not make and binding them upon
others is a barrier to unity. This is taking upon one's self
the liberty to speak in place of God. This is binding where God has
loosed. It is going beyond the inspired Word and brings
condemnation. "If any man shall add unto these things, God
shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book"
(Rev. 22:18). "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove
thee, and thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:6).
Ignoring the laws of God is a barrier to unity.
When one does so he is not respecting what God has said. He takes
liberties with the Scriptures and says God does not mean what He
says. This is loosing what God has bound. We must not go beyond
that which is written, whether of men or any other. "And these
things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to
Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think [of
men] above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up
for one against another" (1 Cor. 4:6).
All men living today have been born into a world of deep
religious division and confusion. It is a part of our society and
culture. How can we avoid it? What shall we do?
The answer is to go back to the Bible. Go back before the
faith was departed from. Go back before the Gospel was perverted.
Go back before the Truth was distorted. Go back before the doctrine
was corrupted. Go back before unity was destroyed.
Go back. We must go back all the way to imitate the church
of the first century before we can have the unity the Lord
We must do today what they did to become a Christian.
They heard the Word of God (John 6:44-45; Rom.
10:17). When they heard, they believed (Acts 18:8; Heb.
11:6; John 8:24; Mark 16:16). Their belief (faith) moved them to
repent of their sins (Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19;
17:30). Having repented, they confessed faith in Jesus
as the only begotten Son of God (Matt. 10:32-33; Acts 8:37; Rom.
10:9-10). Believing, repenting and confessing, they were
baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16;
Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-6,17-18; 1 Peter 3:21). Obedience to the
Gospel made them children of God (Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Cor. 12:13; Acts
2:41,47). Men and women today are made children of God by doing the
We must do today what was done in the first century to
worship God faithfully. The New Testament reveals five acts of
worship. These acts are included in worship on the Lord's day,
every first day of the week. 1) Singing (Eph. 5:19).
Singing is congregational and a cappella, i.e., without the
accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. There are no
choirs, solos or "special music" in New Testament worship. 2)
Teaching (Acts 20:7). A message from God's Word is delivered.
Nothing but the pure and unadulterated Word of God is proclaimed.
The whole counsel of God is preached without fear or favor of any
man (Acts 20:26-27). 3) Giving (1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor.
9:6-7). A free-will offering is collected from each member on the
Lord's day. You will not find sales and fund raisers in New
Testament giving. 4) Lord's supper (Acts 20:7; cf. 1
Cor. 11:23-29; Matt. 26:26-29). Each member partakes of unleavened
bread and fruit of the vine every first day of the week to remember
Christ's suffering and death on the cross. 5) Praying
(Acts 12:5; cf. Acts 2:42). Members reverently pray unto God the
Father in the name of Jesus Christ the Son.
Jesus said true worship is "in spirit" (from
the heart, sincere) and "in truth" (according to and
directed by God's Word) (John 4:24). Does this characterize your
worship? Let's return to the Lord's authorized acts of worship.
We must do today what they did to live a daily
Christian life. That requires living faithful unto the Lord
every single day. "...Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). "...He that
endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 10:22).
"...Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the
Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
Our day by day Christian living must be governed by the
authority of the Lord (Col. 3:17). All that we do must be in
accordance with the authority of the Scriptures. If we cannot point
to a passage which authorizes our action, then we must not do it.
Unauthorized acts causes division.
Only one way exists to have the unity God desires we have
-- put away our own will and submit ourselves to God's will. We
must submit to and embrace wholeheartedly the doctrine of the Lord
-- the New Testament. It is God's standard for unity. "There
is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are
called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one
faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above
all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:4-6).
Let us endeavor to "...to keep the unity of the
Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). Not by compromise
with error, but by following heaven's way of righteousness -- God's
plan for unity, the Holy Bible.
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SOMETIMES TO BUILD UP YOU MUST TEAR DOWN
Marvin L. Weir
The mentality that allowed each person to do "that which
was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25) during the time of
the Judges is the same warped mentality that afflicts many of God's
people today. In fact, this anti-pattern, anti-God type of thinking
continued to afflict the Jews long after the period of the Judges.
King Josiah was convinced that in order to receive God's blessing
Judah would have to live and worship according to God's true
pattern. There are numerous lessons we can learn from King Josiah's
edicts that are recorded in 2 Kings 23.
First, all the people were required to hear the word
of God! "And the king went up to the house of Jehovah,
and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with
him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both
small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the
book of the covenant which was found in the house of Jehovah"
(2 Kings 23:2). It is the word of God that enables people to make
decisions that are right. Without hearing the word of God,
one will not know what he needs to do in order to please the
Almighty (cf. Jer. 10;23; Prov. 14:12).
Second, Josiah ordered the priests to "bring forth out
of the temple of Jehovah all the vessels that were made for Baal,
and for the Asherah..." (2 Kings 23:4). The objects made by
the hands of men that did not glorify God and were contrary to His
word had to be purged from the temple.
An instrument of music is such an object today and instead
of condemning such we have many congregations now clamoring for
such instruments to compliment their worship assemblies.
Dedications and testimonials are now common occurrences in many
worship assemblies; and, those who prefer to please themselves love
to have it so. If elders would read the book today and vow to abide
by it, a tremendous purging would occur in most congregations.
Third, King Josiah "put down the idolatrous
priests..." (2 Kings 23:5). The king knew the priests were a
great influence on the people. He did not begin at the bottom and
work his way up. Josiah started at the top with those who had
responsibility to see that God's word was respected. The idolatrous
priests had to go if the people were ever to please God.
The same is true with "turncoat" preachers today. Godly
elders will never allow those who do not respect and fully proclaim
God's word to occupy the pulpit. Why? Because what comes forth from
the pulpit is going to have an affect upon who is sitting in the
pew! Many brethren sit wringing their hands and complaining that
they do not understand what is happening to the Lord's church. What
has happened again and again is that liberal preachers and youth
ministers have been paid to lead both the old and the young astray!
Fourth, Josiah ordered that "no man might make his son
or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech" (2 Kings
23:10). In many instances today the elders act as if the youth and
young families are running the church. Wrong doing and a rebellious
spirit are not to be tolerated in the kingdom. There is a time to
say "no" and "mark" (Rom. 16:17) or "withdraw fellowship" (2 Thess.
3:6) from those who refuse to repent and insist upon corrupting
true worship (John 4:24).
Fifth, Josiah broke down the altar and high places
created by men (2 Kings 23:15). People cannot, with God's
approval, continue to cherish and cling to that which is wrong.
Folks today don't won't to "let go" because they are concerned
about hurting someone's feelings and "backlash" from family members
and friends. If we desire to go to heaven we must be more concerned
with hurting God than hurting man!
The truth of the matter is that sometimes before brethren
can "build up" they must "tear down." A proper foundation is never
erected upon the sinking sand (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). King Josiah knew
that rotten rubble had to be cleared away before the people could
build properly. Brethren today need desperately to grasp this
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Table of Contents
BUT THE CHURCH ISN'T MEETING MY NEEDS
To be sure, the above title could well take on any one of
several meanings, depending on the context in which the statement
is made. However, only one application is of interest herein. This
statement is many times made by those who purport to be
dissatisfied with the role the New Testament church plays in their
lives, particularly in corporate worship. When used in this
particular context, the phrase takes on the following meaning: "The
church isn't meeting my needs. Our worship services aren't
meaningful. Let's change our corporate worship so that it is more
meaningful and meets my needs."
This sentiment, perhaps even genuinely expressed, reflects
a deep misunderstanding of both the purpose of worship and the role
the worshipper plays in it.
The sentiments expressed above would seem to suggest that
the primary purpose of worship is to "meet my needs."
Certainly the formal corporate assembly of the saints provides
opportunity for worshippers to meet certain spiritual needs:
fellowship (Acts 2:41-42), edification (Eph. 4:11-13), education (2
Tim. 3:15-17). In fact, that list could go on for a while. However,
the Bible does not support the viewpoint that the
primary purpose for corporate worship is to meet the needs of
What then is the primary purpose of Christian
worship? Webster defines "worship" as "paying homage or service to
deity; expressions of devotion or adoration to deity." Thus, in the
very nature of the case the primary purpose of Christian
worship is to pay homage, or express devotion to God.
The concept of expressing devotion to God is not a new
one, and in fact is as old as time itself. In Genesis 4:1-7, Moses
records the worship of Cain and Abel. Abel's worship was acceptable
to God (4:4); Cain's worship was unacceptable (4:5). Why were they
worshipping God to begin with? Was it to meet their needs or was it
because God commanded them to do so? Moreover, how did they know to
worship at all?
A thorough consideration of the preceding three chapters
of Genesis does not reveal to us the instructions Cain and Abel
were under as they worshipped God in Genesis 4. However, they
were worshipping God. Therefore, we may be sure they did so
at His instruction. In addition, we may also conclude that worship
is based on divine revelation from God. In fact, worship may be
said to be a response to divine revelation. Cain and Abel
worshipped in response to the instructions God gave them.
Abraham does the same thing in Genesis 22:1-2. "And
it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and
said unto him, Abraham. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Take
now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get
thee into the land of Moriah. And offer him there for a
burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee
of." God gave Abraham instruction for proper worship, and
Abraham acted. Again, one who would worship God responds to divine
revelation from God.
Hebrews 11 discusses the worship of Abel and Abraham. Both
were instructed of God concerning the proper address to him. Both
responded to those divinely revealed instructions. Why? What made
them respond thusly?
The Hebrew writer says it was faith. Hebrews
11:4,17, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that
he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and
through it he being dead yet speaketh. ... By faith Abraham, being
tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the
promises was offering up his only begotten son...."
Abel and Abraham were instructed of God, they responded
to that revelation through faith. Thus, faith always presupposes a
previous revelation. Paul confirms this in Romans 10:17. "So
then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Why has God asked us to worship him? Why has God from the
beginning of time to the present asked man to approach him in
worship and expected him to do it correctly? For this reason alone:
he has made us creatures of worship. He created us to worship him.
He is worthy of our devotion as the creator of the universe (Rev.
4:11). He is our sovereign (1 Tim. 6:15). He has redeemed us
through his Son (Rev. 5:9-14). Throughout the Psalms (29:2; 42:4;
89:7; 95:2-3), David acknowledges the fear, reverence and
thanksgiving owed God through worship. As the creator he knows us,
and knows we need an outlet for our devotion. Looking back, we can
see why God told the Israelites to "...have no other gods
before me" (Exodus 20:3). God alone is the audience for our
So in times of old, God revealed to his people how he
wanted to be approached. They responded to that revelation by
approaching him in the manner requested because they believed (had
faith) that what God has asked them to do was right, reasonable and
proper. Note further that the approach to God was made without
thought to the personal preferences of the worshipper.
Additionally, notice the blessings bestowed on both
worshippers. Is that primarily why Abel and Abraham approached God
in worship -- to receive blessings from Him? No. Did blessings
follow? Yes. Abel's blessing was God's acceptance of his sacrifice.
Abraham was blessed when the life of his son was spared. However,
in neither case did the worshipper approach God with the express
thought in mind of what might be obtained from worship.
Has God revealed to his people today (the church of
Christ) how he wants to be approached in corporate worship? Indeed,
he has. Our liberal friends can ridicule it all they like - it
makes it no less true. It is what God's word plainly teaches.
Singing Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16
Praying James 5:16, Col. 4:2, Eph. 6:18
Teaching Acts 2:42, Matt. 28:20
Lord's supper 1 Cor. 11:23-28
Giving 1 Cor. 16:1-2
There you have it, i.e., God's divine revelation to us.
Are we ready to accept it, and respond to it in faith and approach
him as he has requested, just as Abel and Abraham and so many
others down through the ages have done?
"But I don't like doing it this way, it doesn't meet my
needs." Do not such statements sound alarmingly like those of the
Israelites as they came out of Egypt?
Consider how quickly the Israelites turned on Moses as the
Egyptians pursue. "And they said unto Moses, Because there
were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the
wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to bring us
forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we spake unto thee in
Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For
it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should
die in the wilderness" (Exodus 14:11-12).
In other words: "But I don't like doing it this way,
Moses, it isn't meeting my needs."
Recall how the Lord's people wanted for water yet doubted
God could provide for their need? "And the people strove with
Moses, and spake, saying, Would that we had died when our brethren
died before Jehovah! And why have ye brought the assembly of
Jehovah into this wilderness, that we should die there, we and our
beasts? And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to
bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of
figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water
to drink" (Num. 20:3-5).
But I don't like doing it this way, Moses; it isn't
meeting my needs.
How quickly we forget how exasperated God became with his
people on occasions such as these (Exodus 32:27-28; Deut. 9:14).
As we look back at Biblical history, surely God's people
in our day have not become so presumptuous that we would engage in
worship that he has not authorized. Would his people further assume
to have his approval and approbation for such practices? Are we
prepared for the consequences of such arrogance (Lev. 10:1-2; Matt.
In his book, Piloting the Strait, Dave Miller
deals with these sentiments in a very powerful way. He reminds his
readers (paraphrasing) of their youth when parents would often
attempt to teach their children to eat something they might not
like. Remember what your parents said? Two things, right? Eat it
anyway, and learn to like it; it's good for you.
"But I don't like doing it this way, it doesn't meet my
Friends, where correct Christian worship is concerned, do
it God's way anyway, and learn to like it, its good for you.
P.O. Box 195
Dadeville, MO 65635
Table of Contents
RESPECT OF PERSONS
One of the great characteristics of God is that He is no
respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Eph. 6:9; 1 Peter
1:17). This truth insures God's fairness to mankind. The doctrine
of Calvinism contradicts this truth in that it teaches that God
chooses some individuals over others for salvation, not based on
any standard of obedience to God's commands, but merely on His
In effect it says that God might choose to save someone
who has never done a single thing to live righteously, and at the
same time choose to condemn forever another who has sought to live
as God would have him to live his entire life. But the Biblical
doctrine of God's inherent fairness debunks this myth. While no one
earns his salvation, if it were true that salvation has nothing at
all to do with conditions of obedience, then the only way God could
save some and condemn others to eternal condemnation would be for
Him to be a respecter of persons, and there would be no inherent
fairness in God's character.
Not only does the Bible tell us of God's fairness in these
terms, it uses the same terms to instruct us toward fairness toward
one another. Hear these words of James: "My brethren, have not
the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect
of persons. ... But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin,
and are convinced of the law as transgressors" (James 2:1,9).
James used the illustration of those who show respect of
persons toward the wealthy, while mistreating the poor, to drive
this principle home, because it is such a common manifestation of
the sin. However, there are other ways we can show respect of
persons that might not be so obvious.
1) It is possible to reverse the illustration and show
respect of persons for the poor, while mistreating the rich. The
cultural class warfare promoted by many liberal politicians is a
case in point. To show no respect of persons, all men should be
treated equally regardless of their social status in society.
Neither the rich nor the poor deserve second class treatment.
2) One can show respect of person by treating one man
differently from another solely based on the race of the men. We
usually use the term "prejudice" to describe this characteristic.
That is a good term for it, because to show respect of persons is
to pre-judge a man on faulty grounds. Men should be judged on their
works, not on their color, just as God judges us (1 Peter 1:17).
3) We also demonstrate respect of persons when we condemn
actions we see in our "enemies" but defend those same actions when
we see them in our friends. Many brethren are well known for their
defense of the truth, and willingness to call a spade a spade when
error is perceived among those outside their sphere of association,
and especially among those who have been previously marked for
their error. We would not fault those actions at all, but sometimes
the same brethren fail to show the same zeal of spirit, when the
same errors are discovered among their friends. Perhaps all men
have this tendency to protect those with whom they are close, but
it is an error that is dangerous to all. It hurts the church,
because error is not more quickly corrected. It hurts the brother
we seek to protect, because it makes it more likely that he will
not repent. And, it hurts us because we become a partaker in his
If we would be more like God, this characteristic should
be put away from us. Let us treat all men with equanimity, and have
not respect unto persons.
Table of Contents
"The Northeast Oklahoma Lectures is set for March
30-April 1, 2001 at the Lee & Walnut Church of Christ in
Sapulpa, OK. The schedule is as follows: March 30, "The Fruit
of the Spirit," Robert Taylor. "Love," Dub McClish. March 31,
"Joy," Robert Taylor. "Peace," Tom Bright. "Longsuffering," Dub
McClish. Quesion/Answer Panel: Bright, Blanton, Johnson.
"Gentleness," Ed Johnson. "Goodness," Jeff Blanton. April 1,
"Faith," Ted Thrasher. "Meekness," Jim O'Connor. Question/Answer
Panel: Fox, O'Connor, Thrasher. "Temperance," Marion Fox. Call 918-
224-2024 or 224-4376 or write: 101 S Walnut, Sapulpa, OK 74066."
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