DO WE WANT A CHURCH THAT FLIES?
A rather interesting article appeared in one of the more
liberal periodicals sometime back that, of late, has been
parroted by the change-agents of this new century. The
authors comments serve as a good example of the present
effort on the part of change-agents to remodel and restructure
the Lords church of our generation into something that is
functional, though not necessarily in accord with the
form of the New Testament pattern. The author of that
article draws a parallel between the progress in aviation and the
supposed progress now being offered the brotherhood. He argues
that our first attempts at flight failed because we sought to
imitate the birds rather than develop the principle of
flight. In like manner, he argues, we [those who would demand a
thus saith the Lord] have sought to imitate the first
century church rather than build a church that is functional. He
Like the ornithopterists of old, we assumed
that function was inextricably
bound to form, that to fly with the
first century church required us to fly like
it. In our minds, a restoration of the first
century spirit and dynamic would only be
possible when we gave the modern church the
same equipment as its ancient
counterpart...Many of us are growing
frustrated with a modern church that may look
like the ancient church in the particulars
but fails to function with anything like its
power and life-changing dynamic.
Let us take a close look at our misguided brothers plea.
First, functionality and form cannot be separated when it
comes to divine and holy matters. God so decreed that to be
the case. In short, when God designed the church, He designed it
to function according to His purpose, and with his good
pleasure in mind (Eph. 1:5). It makes no difference what
generation we may live in or what culture might surround us,
truth remains truth and no man can add or successfully altar
Gods form without incurring Gods wrath and displeasure.
The problem with the author who wrote the article to which I
refer is that he seems to think that we can somehow superimpose
culture on Gods design and make whatever changes are
necessary to make the church more functional. One author
addressed this pitiful way of thinking:
Because our postmodern culture has little respect
for Gods timeless wisdom, it recreates its
own beliefs and morals after its preferences. The
postmodern mindset, rejecting the foundation of
the past to empower the impulses of the present,
imagines it has something better to offer than
Gods Word. Postmodernists loathe the
judgmental and exclusive character of
Christianity. They can accept the kindness and
grace of Savior Jesus but will not tolerate the
authoritative teaching of the Lord Jesus. They do
not believe in a universal moral law controlling
lives; they would rather create their own moral
rules. In their minds, the Bible is too far
removed from our time and place to have any
relevance or application to us today (Phil
Sanders, A Faith Built on Sand, page 34).
We need to remind ourselves that Galatians 1:8-9, Revelation
22:18-19 and 1 Corinthians 4:6 are still in the Bible. All who
trifle with the God-given pattern will answer to Jesus on the
Second, functionality is not to be defined by
men. I find it interesting that the change-agents have no
clear definition of where they want to take the church. This is
because they do not know themselves where they want to go. Many
of them are like the pilot who told his passengers, We are
casting off the compass, and throwing out the radio, but we can
rejoice in knowing that all engines are running and it is full
speed ahead. The Bible provides a clear cut pattern for the
church, both in its identity and its purpose. Yes, there are
minute details as to what the church should look like, but there
are also plain and positive passages as to her purpose and how
that purpose is to be accomplished.
If I read my Bible clear, we are to: 1) preach and
teach the lost, 2) build up and edify the body of Christ, and 3)
provide assistance to those in need as the opportunity arises.
God tells us in His holy word that if we will trust in Him and
build the church as He has instructed, it will function properly.
The error among those who seek to change the church is that they
do not trust in Gods design. Some would have you believe
that if you build it according to Gods pattern, it will not
fly! Two thousand years have proven otherwise. If it worked in
the first century [and it did], what makes us think we can
improve upon Gods design in this century?
Third, any problem or failure that might happen to
arise, lies not in the design of the craft that God has built,
but the ones who might happen to be at the helm. Placed in
capable hands, an airplane can and will operate properly. Pilot
error is the cause of much of aviations mishaps. Likewise,
when Gods church is placed in capable hands, it will meet
all of the divine specifications and it will operate properly and
function at peak performance. This is precisely why God set forth
the qualifications and duties of elders and deacons in His holy
Word. If the church is not functioning as it should, blame is to
be laid at the feet of elders who will not shepherd the flock as
they should, preachers who will not preach the truth without fear
and favor of men, and members whose lives are not in harmony with
One closing thought. The article to which I refer is a
clear call to abandon that pattern set forth in Gods word in
exchange for something that is functional. It is the
age-old argument that the end justifies the means. And
so this misguided author concludes: Central to this endeavor
is a willingness to disconnect form from function, to assert that
function is primary, and to suggest that it is possible to build
a contemporary church that pleases God even if it does not look
exactly like the church of the first or the nineteenth
In the final analysis, I prefer a church whose feet are
on the ground, standing on the Rock of Ages, as opposed to one
that would soar through the skies with no direction, no compass,
and no certain destination.
PO Box 283
Talco, TX 75487
[NOTE: The writer of the article under examination is Tim
Woodruff. The article appeared in Wineskins and other
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THE CHURCH ASSEMBLES FOR WORSHIP
Garland M. Robinson
No clearer passage in all the Bible can be found than what
we read in Hebrews 10:24-31. It is an address to members of the
church. Verse 25 reads, Not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some
[is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye
see the day approaching. On whatever occasion we forsake
the assembling of the church, we have abandoned, deserted,
neglected, left helpless and in straits that assembling of the
church. For if we sin wilfully after that we have
received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more
sacrifice for sins (v.26); and, [it is] a
fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God
We must remember that members of the church have been
redeemed by the blood of the lamb (cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19). It
therefore is a grand privilege and honor to worship God and pay
homage to His high and holy name. Where else would we possibly
desire to be than in worship with the saints on the Lords
Day and every other assembling of the body?
When we obey the Gospel, are we left to ourselves to
stumble through life, finding our own spiritual way? No, not at
all! There are others just like us. Many others have also been
redeemed. We receive strength and help from one another. Yea, we
are even commanded to do so. And let us consider one
another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb.
10:24). One of the times and places in which this is done is
during the regular assemblies of the church.
Christians in every geographical area make up the
church collectively at that place. Therefore we read of the
church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), Philippi (Phil. 1:1), Rome (Rom.
1:7), Colosse (Col. 1:2), Ephesus (Eph. 1:1; Rev. 2:1), Smyrna
(Rev. 2:8), Pergamos (Rev. 2:12), Thyatira (Rev. 2:18), Sardis
(Rev. 3:1), Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7), Laodicea (Rev. 3:14),
Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:1), Caesarea (Acts 18:22), Cenchrea
(Rom. 16:1), Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) and Antioch (Acts 13:1).
There were churches scattered throughout all Judaea, Galilee,
Samaria (Acts 9:31) and Galatia (Gal. 1:2). Churches often met in
the homes of brethren. They did so in the house of Priscilla and
Aquila (Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19), Nymphas (Col. 4:15) and
Philemon (Philemon 1:1-2).
The church gathers themselves together at a specific
location (Acts 14:27; 4:31; 20:7-8; 1 Cor. 5:4;
11:17,18,20,33,34; 14:23,26; Heb. 10:25). Call it a tradition or
custom if you will, but it is a tradition/custom ordained of God.
How else would they know to do such? Exhortation is offered again
and again for the church to assemble. Paul sought to join himself
to the church at Jerusalem (cf. Acts 9:26). Why? It wasnt
because it was a place of recreation and social events. It was a
place to collectively worship and fellowship with God and saints
of like precious faith. It was to do that which had
been revealed by the Holy Spirit. It was a tradition ordained by
the apostles (1 Cor. 11:18; 14:23). There are traditions of men,
they are condemned (Col. 2:8); and, there are traditions of God,
they are commanded for Christians, the church, to keep (2 Thess.
The New Testament reveals specific acts in which
the church is to engage in their assemblies. These are not of
men. They are of God. They are not optional, no matter how many
rant and rave to the contrary. What are the customs and
traditions of God regarding worship? The church assembled on the
first day of the week for God-ordained worship:
1) Parking of the Lords supper. Sometimes
we hear brethren say the Lords supper is to remember the
death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But this is NOT SO. The
Lords supper is a memorial of the suffering and death of
Christ the blood and body of Christ. The cup of
blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of
Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the
body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16)? The Lords burial and
resurrection is not included in the Lords supper. As
important as His burial and resurrection is, even essential to
salvation, they are not a part of the communion. The focus is
upon the suffering and death of our Lord the sacrifice He
made for us.
The Lords supper is eaten in the assembly
when the church assembles for that purpose (Acts 20:7). It
is a solemn occasion. A most serious time of reflection. In the
supper, we show the Lords death till He comes (1 Cor.
11:23-29). It is observed upon the first day of every week (Acts
20:7). There is no authority to relegate it to funerals and
weddings or any other day or event of the week. To do so makes
sacrilege of it!
2) A free-will offering (collection) is given.
Like the Lords supper, it is also done upon the first day of
the week. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, said, Upon the
first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store,
as [God] hath prospered him... (1 Cor. 16:2). This is
not an option. It is done from the heart with a deliberate
financial contribution made by each member. This collection is
for the work of the church, which is: 1) evangelism
(preaching and teaching the Gospel locally and around the world,
Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 10:42; 11:26; 13:46,47; 28:28; Rom. 10:18;
16:26; Col. 1:23; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11,12), 2)
edification (instruction, learning, guidance) of the
church/members (Acts 14:21,22; 15:35; 1 Cor. 14:5,12,26; 2 Cor.
12:19; Eph. 4:12,16,29; 1 Thess. 5:11), 3) benevolence
(helping those who are in need of this worlds goods, Acts
2:44,45,46; 4:32,33,34,35,36,37; 6:1,2,3; 11:29,30; Rom.
15:25,26,27; 1 Cor. 16:1,2,3; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; 9:1-15; 1 Tim. 5:16;
We must remember that God receives glory in and
by and through the church (Eph. 3:21). He is not
glorified through civic organizations, good-will kitchens or any
other benevolent society instituted and/or organized by men.
3) Preaching the Gospel is a part of the worship
assembly. It is the instructional part of worship each
one hearing and learning Gods word. Paul preached to the
church at Troas (Acts 20:7). He preached to the churches of
Galatia (Gal. 1:6,7,8,9); and, he would do so at Rome when he had
the opportunity (Rom. 1:15). Preaching the Gospel is the means by
which God has chosen to save those who believe and obey (1 Cor.
1:18,19,20,21). Without preaching, no man can be saved.
Therefore, evangelists are to preach the word; be instant
in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2). Timothy was
told: 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).
4) Prayer is an essential part of worship. When
Peter was in prison, ...prayer was made without ceasing
of the church unto God for him (Acts 12:5). Paul
requested the church at Ephesus to pray for him. Praying
always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and
watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all
saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I
may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the
gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may
speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph. 6:18,19,20). The
church at Thessalonica was exhorted to pray without
ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Praying is done both
individually and collectively. God speaks to us through His word.
We speak to God through prayer. We can pray at any time and at
any place, but most certainly in worship upon the first day of
5) Singing is an essential part of worship.
While singing is authorized to be done at any time, it is
certainly authorized to be done in the assembly of the church as
well. Hebrews 2:12 reads, ...in the midst of the church
will I sing praise unto thee. Part of the instruction
given the church at Ephesus involved singing. Speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord
(Eph. 5:19). The phrase speaking to yourselves involves
more than one person. It is collective, congregational, action.
When the church assembles, they are to sing. They sing one to
another. Colossians 3:16 says the same thing. Let the
word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Singing teaches (instructs) and admonishes (warns, exhorts) those
present. All present are involved. Though men often include
mechanical instruments with their singing, they do so to their
own peril because they are without the authority of God. For
instruments to be acceptable to God, they must be authorized
(Col. 3:17). But, no verse can be offered which authorizes them!
Men use them because they like them, not because God commanded
them. It will be a sad sad day in judgment for those who go
beyond that which is written and include in worship things not
authorized by God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 John 9-11).
Far too many run full steam ahead in violation of
Hebrews 10:25 and never become a part of the local church. They
seek to be Christians at large. They dont want to
accept responsibility. They desire the freedom to worship God as
they please. They do not believe there is such a thing as a
worship service. They laugh and scorn collective
worship. They desire to worship at home or on the road, at the
lake or more than likely, not at all. They suppose worship is a
24/7 affair that all you do in life is worship. They have
failed to do their study. They dont want Gods way, so
they go about to establish their own way.
God-ordained worship on the Lords day in
singing, praying, giving, preaching and the Lords
supper is done at a specific place and time when the whole
church is gathered together (cf. 1 Cor. 11:20; 14:23). All of
life is not worship. Abraham went to a specific place to worship
(Gen. 22:5). Elkanah went yearly to Jerusalem to worship (1 Sam.
1:3). Paul went to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 24:11). On the
first day of the week, saints assemble with the church for
collective worship. They do so by the approved example of the
first century church. Where are you on the Lords Day?
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There was division in the church at Corinth (1 Cor.
1:11-13). Heavens answer to division is found in verse 10,
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. Five distinct
admonitions in this verse, when followed, bring unity and condemn
division. In light of this, how can anyone be thankful for and
Garland M. Robinson
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WHERE ARE ALL THE TEACHERS?
Roger D. Campbell
Those Christians that taught the word of God in the first
century played an important role in the work of the church. Some
may have taught in one location while others taught as they
traveled from place to place. Some, no doubt, taught constantly
week after week and year after year, while perhaps others taught
with less frequency.
In the 21st century, the church still needs its members
to teach the word! We need to go out and take Gods word
into the streets and lanes of the city...into the highways
and hedges, and compel folks to repent and accept the
Lords invitation (Luke 14:21,23). We need saints of God to
teach their family members about the Christ as Andrew did (John
1:40-42). We need dads and moms teaching in the home, instructing
their precious kids in the ways of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
There is also a great need today, as in every
generation, for Bible class teachers. Inasmuch as the Holy Spirit
has not designated in the Bible how often, where, and in what
manner the saints of God must be together in Bible class
arrangements, those questions all fall into the realm of
judgment, with the leadership of each congregation determining
what it deems will work most effectively for the local flock on
the first day of the week or at any other time.
In order to have Bible classes, you must have students.
Without students, there are no classes. In the same way, Bible
classes also stand in need of someone to teach them. We need
teachers in the classroom that faithfully teach and live the
message of the Bible (1 Tim. 4:16). Some of the churchs most
capable folks do not do much teaching. Thus, I ask, Where
are all the teachers? Where are those faithful saints that
are needed to teach new converts, young married couples,
college-aged saints, teenagers, and kids all the way down to the
infants? I recognize that not every member of the church is cut
out to teach a class, and I also understand that some members are
not yet spiritually mature enough to be given the responsibility
to teach, but in many local churches, that still leaves several
qualified people to teach. Where are they? Why is it that they do
There are too many who make excuses for not teaching.
Ive done my share of teaching. Its
time to let somebody else do it. There is such a thing
as teacher burnout. Sometimes folks just need a break
from teaching. There are some great workers that have been in the
classroom for decades. Their influence on the Kingdom and the
population of heaven will not be fully known or appreciated until
we meet on that other shore. But, at the same time, what if every
person took the approach of Let somebody else do it?
Not much would be done, would it? Besides, in our
congregations directory, there is no brother or sister with
the name Somebody Else.
I would volunteer to teach, but I know how that
works around here. Once you start teaching, you will never get
anybody to take your place, so you are stuck with the teaching
job for life. Consider this possibility: approach the
deacon or shepherd that works with the Bible class/educational
program and volunteer to teach for a specified period of time,
say three or six months, with the understanding that you are
doing this only on a temporary basis. If you fear there might be
a misunderstanding, write out your offer/proposal and sign your
name. At the same time, especially where young children are
involved, it often makes for a more stable classroom setting when
a teacher can work with the same group for a bit longer period of
time. Surely there are some arrangements we can come up with that
get effective teachers into the classroom and at the same time
keep them from getting burned out.
I am just too busy right now to take on a
teaching responsibility. Without doubt, some
circumstances at home or at work, or both, make it taxing to
teach a weekly class. Yet, at the same time, how long have you
been saying you are too busy to teach? Has it been six months?
Three years? Seven years? Brothers and sisters, our Lord expects
us to use our talents, and He can only increase our abilities
when we use them! Some have the reputation of being good
teachers, but they must have gained such years ago because they
sure do not do any teaching these days. For some, the time factor
may be a legitimate cause for not teaching on a temporary basis,
but for others there is a good chance it is a sorry excuse for
failing to do what they ought to do (James 4:17). While we use
our excuse of Im just too busy, humanistic
teachers have plenty of time to pound evolution into the brains
of our kids, TV producers have oodles of time to portray violence
and nakedness as normal, and denominational zealots
make ample time to spread the devils falsehoods. But, hey,
its just our young people and the souls of Gods people
that we do not have enough time for. How serious could that be?!
There is no biblical demand that says a congregation
must divide into Bible classes by age groups. That
decision, by the authority of the Lord (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Peter
3:18), is left to each local congregation. However, we see the
advantage in many cases of doing so, but it would be just as
scriptural to have everyone study in one room. Yet, would it not
be sad if the leaders of a local church were forced to make such
a decision because no one was willing to teach separate classes?
Bible classes play a huge role in determining where a
congregation will be five or even twenty-five years down the
road. You believe that, too, dont you? Where are all the
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Table of Contents
TAKING THE WORD OF GOD TO ISLAM #3
CONFLICTS IN DOCTRINE BETWEEN THE KORAN AND THE BIBLE
I. Regarding the Person of Jesus:
Koran: Describes Jesus as:
Interesting notes also recorded in the Koran regarding Jesus:
- An unauthorized partner not to be given God (3:64,
- Never accepting nor had the right to accept worship
- Not the Son of God (18:1-5). In fact, God Himself
denies that Jesus is His Son (9:30-31).
- Not possessing the traits of deity (23:91).
- An impossibility since God had no partner or wife
with whom to have a child (6:102-103).
- No more than an apostle or prophet
(5:75). Specifically, He is no greater than Abraham, Ishmael, or
Jacob (2:136; 3:84).
- Having been born of a virgin birth (21:91) while also having
been created by God of the dust just like Adam (3:59).
- Capable of being destroyed by God should He have so chosen (5:17).
- Not having actually been crucified (4:157).
- Having called his disciples Muslims
- Having prophesied of Mohammed (61:6).
- His purpose in coming was to prepare the way of Mohammed (61:6).
Bible: Describes Jesus as:
- Muslims are instructed to obey His words (43:63).
- He performed miracles on earth (3:45-49; 5:110; 113).
- Never tasted of death but was taken by God (3:55; 4:158).
- He was faultless (19:19).
- Having perfect unity, fellowship and communion with the
Father (John 17:21-22).
- Accepting worship (Matt. 2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9; Luke
24:52; John 9:38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:8).
- Being the Son of God (Matt. 8:29; John 1:34; 1 John
2:22-23). The Father declared such Himself (Matt. 2:15;
- Equal with God (Isa. 9:6-7; John 1:1; 5:18; 10:30,38;
Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 2:9; Rev. 1:8-9).
- His birth on earth resulting from a supernatural
process that could not involve God having something He
cannot have as a Spirit (Matt. 1:18-20; Mark
- A Prophet and an Apostle (Deut. 18:15; Heb. 3:1) but
greater than any other prophet or apostle (Matt. 3:11;
Luke 7:28; Matt. 17:4-5; Luke 11:31-32; John 4:12-14;
- Being made of a woman (Gal. 4:4), not of the
dust like Adam (Rom. 5:12-19).
- The beginning and end (Rev. 1:8) or part of the eternal
plan of God (Eph. 3:11).
- Crucified and resurrected (Matt. 27:35; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).
- Having called some of His disciples apostles
(Luke 6:12-13) and later all of His disciples were
called Christians (Acts 11:26).
- Being the culmination of the last system that
communicates the message of God to man (Heb. 1:1-2;
- Coming to seek and save that which was lost (Luke
19:10) and having had His way prepared by John
(Matt. 3:3) He said, I am the Way (John
CONFLICTS IN DOCTRINE BETWEEN ISLAMIC
HADITH AND THE BIBLE
I. The Person of Jesus
Hadith: Jesus will:
Bible: Jesus has:
- Return, die, and be resurrected (Surah 19:33-34).
- Restore Islam and wipe out Christianity and Judaism
- Then judge the world by the Koran and not the
- Only reward those who believe in Him and
- Not intercede for man as Mohammed will (8:570).
Part 3 of 4
- Already died once and for all time (Heb. 10:10).
Falling away from the truth is the spiritual equivalent
of crucifying Him again (Heb. 6:6).
- Already ended the Jewish system (Matt. 23:37; Rom.
2:28-29; Heb. 7:12) and did not speak of another system
following Christianity (Heb. 1:1-2; Matt. 12:31-32).
- Stated He will judge the world according to His words
(John 12:48) in the Gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
- Had salvation placed only in His name (Acts
- Alone been given the responsibility of interceding
between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 8:34).
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GOD HATES DIVISION
God hates those who sow discord and division (cf. Prov.
6:16-19). Romans 16:17-18 says, Now I beseech you, brethren,
mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the
doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For 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 (innocent). Are you involved in causing division?
The word mark means to fix ones
eyes upon, direct ones attention to, pay attention to, keep
ones attention on, be concerned about, watch out for, be
careful. The word is used both in a good sense (cf. Phil.
3:17) and a bad sense (cf. Rom. 16:17). The context determines
whether the ones we are to mark are to be followed or
avoided. But in Romans 16:17, the reason we keep our eyes on
these individuals is so we will not follow their wicked and
divisive ways. Division is contrary to Gods Will. It is the
opposite of the Lords Way and Christian character.
Garland M. Robinson
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For Deeper Study...
LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU
In Ephesians 5:6 Paul says, Let no man deceive you
with empty words... (ASV, vain KJV). Vain
words are empty words. An analysis of this statement is helpful
for those who take seriously the solemn warnings of God.
The apostle uses the adjective empty to describe
the kind of words by which one may be deceived. The term
literally refers to someone or something possessing no material
substance such as an empty cistern or one sent away empty handed
(LXX, Gen. 31:42; 37:24). There exists, however, a figurative
extension of this meaning in the New Testament. In this sense it
pertains to someone or something lacking intellectual, moral or
spiritual merit. For example, the vain
(foolish NKJV) man supposes faith saves in the absence
of works (James 2:20). Also, without the reality of Christs
resurrection, Paul views his preaching as vain and his
converts as possessing worthless faith of the same sort (1 Cor.
15:14). When Paul uses the term with reference to the message of
false teachers it carries the idea of without content, without
any basis, or without truth. It describes words
lacking in beneficial substance, untrue words (BDAG, 539;
Louw/Nida, 674). Other sources offer the definition as words
which convey erroneous teachings or as words devoid of
truth (Vine, 198; Thayer, 343).
Grammatically, the noun words is in the
dative case. This case usage indicates the means by which
the action of the verb is carried out (Brooks/Winebery, 42). It
is necessary for translators to supply the terms with
or by means of to express this instrumentality involved
with the indirect object. The construction answers the question
how? Christians may be deceptively led astray from the
truth by false teachers. And, just how do heretics achieve
this accomplishment? Answer: through the instrumentality of
words used to convey something other than biblical truth.
Words are vehicles of concepts. They are the primary means by
which persons communicate ideas to others. God discloses His
truth to humanity through verbally inspired words which we have
embodied in written form on the pages of the New Testament (1
Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16). Faithful preachers disseminate this
truth to saint and sinner alike through the proclamation of words
which convey the divine will. These words are characterized as
the words of eternal life (John 6:68);
sound words (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13), or
the words of the faith (1 Tim. 4:6). False
teachers likewise have at their disposal the means by which to
dispense their heretical views. It is through words of
flattery (1 Thess. 2:5), feigned words
and great swelling words of vanity (2 Peter
2:3,18; cf. Jude 16) or the empty words of our
text. It is through the instrumentality of these words devoid
of truth which become the medium of deception when spoken by
advocates of error.
The word translated deceive (Eph. 5:6) can
describe the one who misleads himself when failing to
control his tongue, resulting in the practice of vain religion
(James. 1:26). Self deception is possible (1 Cor. 3:18; Gal.
6:3). It is also possible to be deceived by others. Paul uses an
intensified form of the term to describe the enticement utilized
by Satan to seduce Eve in the Garden of Eden (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim.
2:14). The apostle employs the term again to depict the mode of
operation by false teachers when using smooth and fair
speech in order to beguile the hearts of the
simple [innocent] (Rom. 16:17-18). Thus, the divine mandate
is to let no man beguile you in any wise (2
Thess. 2:3). The term relates the concept of causing someone to
accept false ideas or erroneous views concerning the truth, to
deceive or cheat (BDAG, 345; Louw/Nida, 367). In
every age it is inevitable that false teachers will surface to
delude the Lords church and lead believers astray from the
purity of the Gospel and its ethical demands on their lives
(Arnold, 326). Know that at times, words may seem clever and
plausible from a preacher who seems trustworthy, but in reality
are the very means by which one is led to their spiritual ruin.
The phrase let no man deceive translates a present
active imperative preceded by the negative pronoun no
one or not any person (medeis). The
negative is used prior to the imperative to turn the command into
a prohibition a negative command. Such a construction is
often referred to as a prohibitive imperative because
the command forbids a certain action. The most forceful way to
express a command or prohibition in Greek is to place the
directive in the imperative mood. But if this statement is a
command, why is the word let used in the translation? This
sounds to the English reader as if Paul were politely encouraging
the saints not to be deceived rather than issuing an order to be
obeyed. In the art of translation it is a generally accepted view
that the source language (i.e., Greek) of any document
will always contain more than can ever be fully conveyed in the
target language (i.e., English). In other words, something
is usually lost in translation like some of the more
subtle nuances which defy transference from one language to
another (Towner, 7). This is the case here of which the expositor
has the responsibility to explain the significance of the
underlying Greek form (Wallace, 486).
The reason why the English rendering does not fully
reflect the force of an imperative here is because grammatically
it is a third person singular, for which there is no English
equivalent. Since the third person imperative form does not occur
in English, the translation must always be idiomatic (Mounce,
311). Thus, third person imperatives are usually translated with
the helping verb let (as in this verse: Let
no man deceive you). Through no fault of English
translators, this has a tendency to conceal the force of the
imperative by suggesting a permissive nuance (Fantin, 82-
83). But the imperative, even in the third person, is more akin
to he must or periphrastically I command him to.
Simply put, the Greek is much stronger than a permissive idea,
engaging the volition as it does and placing a requirement on the
individual (Wallace, 486). Compare Matthew 5:16 where Jesus says,
Even so let your light shine before men. The
construction is a third person singular imperative. But Jesus is
not offering a polite suggestion here. He is not merely
encouraging us to illuminate society with our positive influence.
Far from it. The Master is issuing a command, a divinely given
obligation just like when Paul issued the imperative, I
command you to walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8). In
order to be faithful to God, one must let their Christian
light shine before others. No other option is available for those
who wish to remain among the redeemed.
The point is that even though the third person
imperative is usually translated with an English permissive
structure, this sense is a phenomenon of English translation, not
Greek. The strength of the command given in the Greek third
person imperative is just as forceful as the second person
imperative, despite a rendering that may, on the surface of a
translation, seem weaker (Porter, 55). It is up to the exegete
(interpreter, teacher) to make this known to his audience. While
it is true there is a permissive imperative (sometimes
called an imperative of toleration), this usage does
not normally imply that some deed is approved by the
speaker/writer. This permissive imperative is best treated as a
statement of allowance or toleration. This is the
case because the connotation of permission is usually
too positive to convey adequately the nuance involved in this
type of imperative. It more probably reflects that the
speaker/writer resigns himself to the possibility that an action
may occur, but he does so without offering approval of the action
(Fantin, 76). For example, Paul uses a third person singular
imperative when he says, concerning the unbelieving spouse who
chooses to leave their Christian mate, But if the
unbelieving depart, let him depart (1 Cor. 7:15). The
apostle is hardly giving approval to dissolve a marriage. It is
just that the permissive imperative more strongly addresses the
heart of the rebellious than if the apostle had said, If the
unbeliever departs, that is OK! (Wallace, 485; 488-489;
What should be appreciated is that God absolutely forbids
Christians to allow themselves to be deceived by vain or
empty words. It may initially seem strange that God would
command his children not to allow themselves to be
deceived by false teachers or to be led astray by their error.
But this is exactly what is involved in the prohibition
articulated in Ephesians 5:6. God demands that members of
his church exercise their human responsibility in examining all
doctrines and to accept only that which is in harmony with His
revealed will. A failure to do so often results in one being
deceived in the spiritual realm. If so, this equals disobedience
to a God-given responsibility. God commands Dont
allow anyone to deceive you with empty words! May God help us
to be obedient in this regard.
Arnold, Clinton E. 2010. Ephesians. Exegetical
Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Brooks, James A. and Carlton L. Winbery. 1979.
Syntax of New Testament Greek. Lanham, MD: University
Press of America.
Danker, F.W., et. al. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon
of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
Chicago: University of Chicago. (Cited as BDAG).
Fantin, Joseph D. 2010. The Greek Imperative Mood in
the New Testament. New York: Peter Lang.
Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene A. Nida. 1988. Greek-
English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic
Domains. New York: United Bible Societies.
Mounce, William D. 2003. Basics of Biblical
Greek. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Porter, Stanley E. 2005. Idioms of the Greek New
Testament. London: Sheffield Academic Press.
Thayer, J.H. 1977. A Greek-English Lexicon of the
New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
Towner, Philip H. 2007. Preface. The UBS Greek New
Testament: A Readers Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche
Bibelgesellschaft Wallace, Daniel B. 1996. Greek Grammar
Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Vine, W.E. 1984. Vines Complete Expository
Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville: Thomas
105 East Planters
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Table of Contents
THE ANGLER FISH
A family of fish that live in the depths of the sea
actually go fishing: pole, dangling bait and all. This is only
natural, since they, like people who go fishing, like to eat
fish. This group of fish is collectively called the angler fish.
The front dorsal spine in the female angler is located on her
head. It is much longer than any of the other dorsal fins and has
a fleshy bait on the end. When hungry, she sits very still and
dangles the bait in front of her mouth. It doesnt take long
before something swims up to investigate this bait as its
possible lunch. But before it can think about taking a sample,
the angler has turned the tables and eaten her own lunch. Of
course, this system wouldnt work very well in the pitch
darkness one mile below the surface of the ocean without one
other special provision. Like many other fish at such depths, the
angler is able to generate her own light. In her case, only the
bait lights up, so she stays invisible to her victims. The
chemical method she uses to create the light is nearly 100
percent efficient! In His imaginative creativity, God was pleased
to place creatures a mile below the surface of the sea. Yet, in
His mercy He has provided them with everything they need to make
their living there. From Creation Moments
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The Devil is my shepherd, I shall want always. He makes me
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