FOR THE FAITH
James W. Boyd
Jude was compelled to write
with diligence to deal with false brethren. There is no hesitation or
apology in his words about false teaching and false teachers.
You should begin this lesson by
reading Jude from your own Bible then return to our comments. It is one
short chapter. But your understanding of it is vital to this
discussion. It would be profitable to discuss the entire chapter verse
by verse. But our focus centers on verse three, “...and
exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was
once delivered unto the saints.” Here we have a
description of THE FAITH. Literally the text tells us “to
contend earnestly for the once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints
faith.” While writing this epistle on salvation, the Holy
Spirit led Jude to include these words about contending for THE FAITH.
There are reasons for this. There will always be those who will contend
against it. The text shows us God’s recognition of false
teachers, false brethren, false doctrines, and the dangers of such to
the souls of men everywhere —even the church of Christ. God
knows what will happen to the church when error is left unchecked and
proponents of error are allowed to go without challenge to their false
False teachers are
described in several ways in this one chapter book. There are those who
crept in (v.4) —religious creeps. They are ungodly men (v.4),
filthy dreamers, fleshly, despising God’s authority (v.8).
Jude calls them brute beasts (v.10). They are like Cain, going to have
their own way; like Balaam, the Old Testament compromiser who led
Israel to sin; like Korah, leader of rebellion against Moses, Aaron,
and the authority of God (v.11). They are spots, clouds without water,
trees with dead fruit (v.12). Verse thirteen pictures them as raging
waves foaming in shame, and wandering stars in the blackness of
darkness. They are murmurers, complainers, and mockers (v.18).
God’s attitude toward such people is clear. Verse five says
they shall be destroyed as unbelievers. Everlasting chains under
darkness are reserved for them (v.6). Like Sodom and Gomorrah, they
will suffer the vengeance of eternal fire (v.7).
Knowing the danger of such
people, having a love for brethren, Jude was compelled to write with
diligence to deal with false brethren, and deal with them he does.
There is no hesitation or apology in his words about false teaching and
false teachers. He wrote with clarity, definiteness, and decisiveness.
There is nothing vague or ambiguous in his words. Notice verse three in
There is such a thing as
THE FAITH. Paul said in Ephesians 4:4, “There is
one faith.” How that differs with denominationalism
that contends not for THE FAITH, but for many faiths, leaving it to man
to choose the faith of his choice! THE FAITH is the plain, simple,
powerful New Testament Gospel revelation, the truth, the doctrine of
Christ, the Word of God. When Paul was in Paphos and met Sergius Paulus
he encountered Elymas the sorcerer who sought to “turn
the deputy away from the faith” (Acts 13:8). The
deputy was a prudent man. Elymas resisted the teaching of Paul and
tried to prevent the acceptance of the system of salvation
—that body of doctrine of God’s plan for saving
A DELIVERED FAITH
In Acts 14:22, Paul
exhorted brethren to “continue in the
faith.” From Acts 15:9 we learn the hearts of the
Gentiles, like all others, are purified by “the
faith.” The Greek includes the indefinite article
“the.” Galatians 3:23, “But
before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith
which should afterward be revealed.” The faith
refers to the Gospel system. This is not just belief, but has reference
to the religion of which Christ is author and founder. Paul continued
to write what we are, namely, children of God. He
tells us where we are, namely, in Christ. He tells
us how we got there, namely, being baptized into
Christ. This is the message of THE FAITH, God’s power unto
salvation (Rom. 1:16) for which we are to earnestly contend (Jude 3).
Notice further that the
faith is a DELIVERED FAITH. It is not a product of the minds of men,
man’s genius, invention, or origin. Paul states that his
apostleship was of God (Gal. 1:1). In verses 11,12, “But
I certify you brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not
after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it,
but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” What he
preached was not a product of his education, former religion, own
reasoning, human philosophy, or any such thing. The Gospel is affirmed
to be heaven’s revelation.
ONCE FOR ALL
Let us compare two
passages, both of which reveal the origin of the Gospel. First
Corinthians 2:9-13, “But as it is written, Eye hath
not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the
things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath
revealed them unto us by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all
things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of
man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God
knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Which things also we speak, not
in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy
Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
The other verses are Ephesians 3:1-5, “For this
cause I Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have
heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given unto me to
you ward, how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as
I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my
knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made
known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy
apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
Both passages tell us of
God. What did God do? He made a revelation. What was revealed? All
things of God —the mystery of Christ. By whom was this
revelation made? By the holy apostles and prophets. By what means is
this revelation given? By words, written and spoken, which the Spirit
teacheth, not words originating with men. Here is the source of THE
FAITH. We are not dealing with human opinion and experiences. These are
not testimonials induced through emotionalism and imagination, but the
once-for-all-delivered-faith from God to inspired men through the Holy
Spirit. Every word of it is God-breathed. Second Timothy 3:16,17, “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.” The Scriptures teach a
verbal, plenary, all-sufficient, infallible, inerrant, authoritative
revelation of THE FAITH that is embodied in Scripture as it was given
to inspired men.
Notice further that the
faith was ONCE FOR ALL delivered. The word translated
“once” is used of what is of perpetual validity and
never in need of repetition. This asserts the timelessness of the Word.
This same word “once” is used in Hebrews 9:26,28
regarding the death of Christ. Christ does not have to die a second
time. It was all-sufficient the first time. This teaching sinks forever
the contention that there is latter-day revelation from God. The Gospel
is the same now as it was in the first century, and will remain the
same until the Lord returns. It is the same in every generation, in
every nation, making no allowance for additions, subtractions,
modern-day visions, cultures, dreams, special leadings, etc. THE FAITH
is a faith adequate for all time and all people.
A DELIVERED FAITH
THE FAITH was DELIVERED to
the saints, God’s people. They are the custodians of THE
FAITH. First, it was revealed to inspired men, earthen vessels (2 Cor.
4:7), and now recorded in the inspired book (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Christians are not given the power to make, alter, change, update, or
any such thing regardIng the Word of God. Christians are the stewards
of THE FAITH. As a banker has the responsibility to care for, guard,
defend, and properly use that which is placed in his care, so the
saints have a similar duty toward the Word. As the Jews were entrusted
with the oracles of God (Rom. 3:2), Christians are entrusted with THE
FAITH. Our greatest responsibility and privilege is to love this truth,
live it, defend it, preach it, contend for it; and if need be, die for
it. If we do not have the strength, concern, courage, will, and
conviction to deal with THE FAITH that way, there is none who will.
CONTEND FOR IT
The exhortation in Jude is
to CONTEND earnestly for THE FAITH. This is an obligation and
privilege. The word translated “earnestly” comes
from a word meaning to agonize, struggle with difficulty against all
dangers and antagonists to the Gospel. The word is sometimes translated
“strive” (Col. 1:29; 1 Tim. 4:10; Luke 13:24), and
“fight” in First Timothy 6:12, “Fight
the good fight of faith.” It is a term of combat
Just how does one earnestly
contend for the faith? Jude was doing that very thing in this epistle.
Recognizing error, false teachers, false doctrines, he was waging war
against them. He knew they were not to be ignored and they would not
just go away. He had the right, indeed, the duty, to warn brethren
about such things until brethren showed an awareness of them. While
some ignored the matter, insulted the proclaimers of truth, impugned
motives, he still was plain, pointed, powerful, and precise in his
presentation on matters regarding sin and religious error. He contended
for the faith in the very letter in which he urged others to contend.
Paul was contending for the
faith when he treated Elymas the way he did. Notice his straightforward
and powerful words, “Then Saul, (who also is called
Paul), filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O
full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou
enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right
ways of the Lord” (Acts 13:9,10)? In Galatians two,
where Paul recounts his exposure of error in Peter when Peter showed
himself inconsistent and compromising; Paul rebuked him to the face,
before them all, because Peter was to be blamed. Paul was contending
for the faith. When he commanded the withdrawal from those who walked
disorderly (Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6; 1 Cor. 5:7), he was contending
for the faith. When he specified by name those who needed marking, such
as Hymaneus, Alexander, and Philetus” (2 Tim. 4:14), and
Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), he was contending for the faith. When John, the
apostle of love, named Diotrephes as the disturber that he was (3 John
9), John, like Paul, was contending for the faith. Faithful Gospel
preachers who do the same today are lovers of truth, and do not cringe
to contend for the faith.
PETER AND OTHERS CONTENDED
When Peter preached the
Gospel on Pentecost, when Paul stood before the Jewish councils and
Roman courts, when uproars were created in various places, the apostles
were contending for the faith. When John warned not to believe every
spirit, but try them (1 John 4:1), when Peter warned of false teachers
that would bring in damnable heresies and cause the way of truth to be
evil spoken of (2 Peter 2:1,2), when Paul urged Timothy that some would
depart from the faith, and he was to preach the word in spite of what
people said, did, or thought (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:1-4), they were
contending for the faith.
May I add a further comment
to the words of Paul to Timothy. Second Timothy was the last letter the
apostle penned. He realized that apostasy was threatening the church.
Still he urged, “Preach the word.”
When? “In season; out of season,”
which means, when people like it, and when they do not; when they want
it, and when they reject it. By reproof, rebuke, and exhortation, with
longsuffering and doctrine, he was to contend for the faith. Why?
Because the time was coming when even brethren would not want it; when
brethren prefer what they wanted to what God said they needed.
Paul contended for the
faith when he warned the Ephesian elders for three years with tears
about apostasy coming into the church through them. He taught that
elders ought to convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9), not coddle up to
them and run along with them. Stephen was contending for the faith when
he fearlessly preached the truth before the very leaders who had caused
Christ to be put on the cross. Plainly he told them the truth, even
when they hated it. They considered him their enemy because he dared
tell them the truth. He gave his life (Acts 7) contending for the
Jesus set the example in
contending for the faith. Those who perceive Jesus as some kind of
effeminate, weak, namby-pamby pacifist, a wishy-washy religionist, just
do not know the Lord as Scripture reveals Him. He was no shabby
revolutionist either. John called Him the Lamb of God (John 1:29) when
speaking of Him as the sacrifice for sins. But John also wrote that He
was the Lion of Judah when writing of His character (Rev. 5:5). When He
confronted error, His zeal ate Him up. He acted decisively. None could
doubt where He stood and none could mistake why He stood as He did.
When attacks were made on Him personally, He paid little attention to
it. “When he was reviled, he reviled not again;
when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that
judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). But when the
message of truth that He preached was opposed, you find no stronger
actions among men than those taken by our Lord. Christ-likeness in
contending for the faith is sorely needed in the ranks of
God’s people in our own day. Too many, who claim to be kind
and loving, are just cowards and will not contend for the faith.
In contending for the
faith, we must uphold every portion of it. We must oppose anything,
everything, anybody, everybody, anywhere, everywhere, any time, every
time, that efforts are made to minimize or contradict THE FAITH.
Especially is this true when the fiery darts of the evil one come
crashing against the church from the outside, and the insidious
digression bubbles within the church. We are soldiers of Christ and He
is the captain of our faith. We are to go forward in this spiritual
warfare to liberate souls from the enslavement of sin, and defend the
glorious freedom from sin that is in Christ. Some are spectators and
not participators in this fight. Instead of being God’s
gladiators, some are Satan’s agitators, undermining like
traitors. Faithful men of God must contend earnestly for the
2720 S Chancery St.
McMinnville, TN 37110
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appeared in “A Burning
Fire” Vol, 14, No. 7. There are 942 sermons by James W. Boyd
available online at: www.aburningfire.net].
Table of Contents
Christ Demands #2
Garland M. Robinson
GOD’S FIVE-FOLD PLAN FOR UNITY
When division and
controversy reared its ugly head in the church at Corinth, Paul, by
inspiration, took up his pen and decisively dealt with it and gave
heaven’s word on the subject. First Corinthians 1:10 sums up
God’s plan for unity better than any other verse I know. “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.”
If those who desire to be
pleasing unto the Lord and go to heaven when they die will all speak
the same thing, there will be no divisions among them. They will be
perfectly joined together which will lead them to have the same mind,
which in turn, will cause them to have the same judgment. Though men
say this can’t be done, God says otherwise! He not only says
it, He demands it. With all the division in the church at Corinth, an
inspired apostle rebukes and exhorts them to have unity among
themselves and then tells them how to have it. Follow God’s
Word! That’s simple enough, but men are not willing to do it.
They have their own ideas!
FELLOWSHIP AND UNITY
There are many ecumenical
movements today, each claiming to be working toward unity. There are
community-wide, so-called non-denominational worship services wherein
many denominations come together under the banner of laying aside their
doctrines and prejudices to accept one another “just as they
are.” However, according to the Scriptures, these are not
attempts at God-approved unity. They do nothing more than
“agree to disagree.” They may claim they have
achieved unity, but it is nothing more than union. You may tie two cats
tails together and make a union, but it sure won’t make them
be in unity!
Unity is not
“union.” Unity is not
“diversity” or “agreeing to
disagree.” Unity is not “going along to get
along” or “turning one’s back on and
ignoring our differences.” Unity is not “ecumenical
cooperation.” Unity involves oneness, singleness, truth, and
harmony that is based on God’s Word and humbly submitting to
Him. It is being of one mind (1 Peter 3:8) — the mind of
Christ (Phil. 2:5-8).
There are only two kinds of
unity wherein people may be in complete religious agreement and harmony
with each other: 1) one approved of God, and 2) one not approved of
There can be unity among
people or groups that is not approved of God because it’s not
in accordance with God’s will; and, consequently, though they
be in unity with each other, there is no unity with the Lord. Just
because some come together and agree to be at peace with one another
does not mean they meet God’s approval.
The second type of unity is
that which is approved of God because it is in accordance with
God’s will; therefore, there is unity not only among people
but unity with the Lord as well. True unity, God-approved unity, is
based on God’s Word and adhere’s to the New
Testament pattern. Otherwise, it is of no value at all and is not true
In the New Testament we
read of Christians being: fellowcitizens (Eph.
2:19), fellowsoldiers (Philemon 2), fellowservants
(Col. 1:7), fellowhelpers (2 Cor. 8:23), fellowdisciples
(John 11:16), fellowprisoners (Col. 4:10), fellowworkers
(Col. 4:11), fellowlaborers (1 Thess. 3:2) and fellowheirs
(Eph. 3:6). In these terms we find the idea of sharing, cooperating,
communing, harmony. This is only possible when there is unity with one
another and with God. Many have fellowship with one another but that
does not mean it is God-approved. We not only must have fellowship with
one another, but our fellowship must be with God as well (cf. 1 John
When unity prevails we have
been called into the fellowship of God’s Son
(1 Cor. 1:9). We have fellowship in ministering to the saints
(2 Cor. 8:4). If there is unity, we are able to extend our beloved
brethren the right hand of fellowship (Gal. 2:9).
Only then can we have fellowship in the Gospel
(Phil. 1:5) and the fellowship of the Spirit (Phil.
2:1). As we live by the faith of Christ, we are able to “...know
him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his
sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”
The Bible authorizes and
reveals only one church. Daniel 2, Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 all speak of
one kingdom/church. Jesus spoke of only one kingdom/church. To the
apostles he said “...I will build my church...and
I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom”
(Matt. 16:18-19). How many churches/kingdoms did He say He would build?
He said “my church” — one. He did not say
“my churches” —many.
THE RESTORATION PLEA
The apostles revealed only
one church. There is “one body...one
faith” (Eph. 4:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:13). Paul did not
teach there were many bodies and many faiths. The one body is the one
church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). The one faith is the one system of
faith, the Gospel by which the church is governed (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jude
3; John 12:48).
No one can find more than
one church, one body, one faith in the New Testament. Jesus is the one
head of the one church which is His body (Eph. 1:22-23). He does not
have “many bodies” any more than He has
In the New Testament we
read of only one church. All those who became Christians were added by
the Lord into His one body, the church of Christ (Acts 2:41,47). Even
during the time of the apostles, men began to corrupt the teaching of
Christ (2 Thess. 2:7). This apostasy from the one true faith/church was
prophesied to occur (Acts 20:28-31; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 2 Peter 2:1-2). It
first became apparent within the leadership of the church. By 606 A.D.
the first Pope was recognized as the head of the church in Rome.
Ignorance of the Scriptures reigned supreme for centuries until the
period of the Renaissance when a renewed interest in the Bible was
stirred. As the common people began to read the Bible they soon began
what is known as the Reformation Movement. Men such
as Martin Luther sought to reform the Catholic Church and bring it
closer to the first century church. Others also joined in and from
these efforts arose the Presbyterian Church in 1536, the Church of
England in 1552, the Baptist Church in 1611, the Methodist Church in
1739 and Episcopal Church in 1789. The list goes on and on, even today,
with multiplied hundreds of denominations.
The Reformation Movement,
though a step in the right direction, did not go far enough. A far
better goal is the restoration of the Pure, Simple,
Organization, Membership, Worship, Teaching and Work of the first
century church of Christ. The scriptural plan is to restore the church
to its original state. If we will believe what the
faithful brethren of the first century church believed, do
what they did, live as they lived, worship
as they worshipped, teach what they taught, and work
as they worked, we will be what they were, the church established by
Jesus the Christ.
If a polluted river is to
be restored to its purity, that which contaminated it must be removed.
The only way a polluted religion can be restored to its original form
is to remove that which causes it to be polluted. The doctrines and
commandments of men must be laid aside before there can be a return to
pure, simple, New Testament Christianity. In order for there to be
unity, true Bible unity, God-approved unity, men must lay aside
everything they have added to God’s Word and put back
everything they have removed from God’s Word. This is called Restoration
—restoring the church to its original condition. This is the
way that is right and cannot be wrong.
Table of Contents
THE SIN OF
W. Curtis Porter, 1897-1960
The results of denominationalism show
it to be displeasing to God. Here are a few reasons:
1) It Makes
Infidels. What one builds, the other destroys. What one
makes, the other unmakes. They lead in different directions. Unity
among people who believe the Bible to be the Word of God will do much
to lead men to God. Jesus prayed: “That they all
may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also
may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent
me” (John 17:21). The purpose of unity is here made
plain: “that the world may believe that thou hast sent
Unity Makes Believers. If
it is necessary for believers in Christ to be one that the world may
believe on him, then division is certain to have the opposite effect.
Denominationalism is a prolific source of infidelity today. When you
think of hundreds of conflicting religions being claimed as authorized
by the same book, the Bible, what could one expect but infidelity? Men
who reason would not be willing to accept a book that is filled with
conflicting ideas. But the Bible must be regarded as such a book if
denominationalism is to be accepted.
One church teaches that man
is saved by faith alone; another teaches that faith alone is not
sufficient. One church claims salvation may be had without any
conditions; another teaches that salvation is conditional. Some declare
that a child of God can never so act as to be lost at last, while
others say he may fall away and be lost. By some it is taught that
immersion is the only scriptural form of baptism, but others insist
that it may be by sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. And yet all claim
to get their teaching from the Bible. To endorse denominationalism is
to say that all these conflicting theories are true and to regard the
Bible as a book of inconsistencies and contradictions, and it results
in infidels. But the Bible does not teach all these conflicting
doctrines; nor does it endorse the existence of denominations. Unity
must be based on Bible teaching (1 John 1:7).
2) It Makes God
Contradict Himself. This is closely allied to the point
already discussed. Denominational preachers of all types claim a divine
call to their ministry. They claim to be preaching because God, in a
direct way, has called them to preach. But how inconsistent that would
make God! According to the claims of denominationalism, God calls one
man to preach Methodist doctrine and to build up
the Methodist Church. He calls another man to preach Baptist
doctrine and to build up the Baptist Church. Another is
called to advance the cause of Presbyterianism. And
yet another to preach the Pentecostal doctrine. And
on and on it goes, with men called to preach the conflicting doctrines
of all religious bodies in Christendom. And, the whole thing is charged
up to God. He has called one man to deny what he has called another man
to preach. Can you believe a thing like that? If you believe that
denominationalism is of God, that is what you must believe. I am frank
to say that I do not believe it. God does not contradict himself.
Anything that makes God contradict himself is sinful.
3) It Declares
God’s Way Is Not Sufficient. Paul said to Timothy: “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, thoroughly furnished
unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This shows
the all-sufficiency of God’s way. The Word of God is a
perfect rule of faith and practice. Nothing in addition to it is
needed. It will furnish the man of God to all good works, and what more
could we want than that? Yet denominationalism is not satisfied with
the way of God. They have formulated their disciplines, manuals,
articles of religions, confessions of faith, and creeds to supplement
the Word of God. Such action declares God did not give to the world a
perfect system, and that man had to come to his rescue and help him out
of a difficulty.
Denominationalism turns men
away from the unadulterated Word of God to an acceptance of the
doctrines and commandments of men. And that is the very thing that
Jesus condemned. He said, “But in vain they do
worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”
(Matt. 15:9). Jesus admonishes men to refrain from following such
teachers. “Every plant, which my heavenly Father
hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind
leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall
into the ditch” (Matt. 15:13-14). Denominationalism
is not a divine planting. God did not plant it. Its leaders are blind
guides. Jesus said: “Let them alone.” The statement
simply means that we should not follow them, for if we do, we shall
fall into the ditch with them. Whenever a man is satisfied with
God’s revealed way, willing to take just the things found in
the Gospel of Christ, he will not build up denominationalism. And, if
he labors to build up denominationalism he announces his belief that
God’s way is not sufficient.
4) It Demands
Acceptance of Other Gospels. From what has already been said
it is evident that denominationalism is not found in the Gospel of
Christ. Nothing can be called the Gospel of Christ that is not
authorized in the New Testament. But denominationalism is a perverted
Gospel. In Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia he said, “I
marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the
grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be
some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ”
(Gal. 1:6-7). This is the very thing that denominational preachers do.
They pervert the Gospel of Christ. They twist it into meaning what it
does not mean. But what about men who pervert the Gospel of Christ?
Paul answers, “But though we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have
preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now
again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have
received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8-9). In the
strongest language possible, this shows God’s displeasure
toward denominationalism. All the conflicting things proclaimed by
denominational preachers cannot belong to the Gospel of Christ. They
preach perverted Gospels, other Gospels than that proclaimed by the
apostles. Hence, the curse of heaven rests upon them.
5) It Would Make
Christ a Polygamist. Christ and the church sustain the
relationship of husband and wife. We read from the pen of Paul, “For
the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the
church: and he is the savior of the body” (Eph.
5:23). We have many statements showing there is only one body, or
church (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 12:20). Hence, Christ is the husband of one
wife. But if all denominations are bodies of Christ, he is the husband
of hundreds of wives. This would make him a polygamist. And that is
exactly what the result will be if denominationalism is divinely
A system that is guilty of
sin at so many points should be thrown aside. Let men come back to the
Bible, to the Bible alone, and denominationalism will disappear from
the earth, and the world will profit by the loss.
This article appeared in Firm Foundation, March,
2000. It was also printed in Old Paths Studies a
few years ago. In this present age when emotions seem to be more
important than truth, such great articles are all the more needed. Old
Paths Studies” August 2019, edited by Bob Winton.
You can be added to their email list at: email@example.com].
Table of Contents
Romans 8:19-23 is a fundamental proof
text for a renewed earth theology. It is not an easy text. Romans 8:21
says, “...the creature itself also shall be
delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of
the children of God.” That is the King James
Version. Where the King James Version has the word “creature,”
other translations, including the American Standard
Version, have the word “creation.”
This, itself, is not the problem. For
clarity, I prefer the word “creature” in
Romans 8:19, 20, and 21, but for the sake of consistency, I will use
the word, “creation,” in this
Concerning the meaning of
the word translated, “creation,”
Moses Lard said in his commentary on Romans (pp.265-266), “On
all hands the question is allowed to be difficult. Opinions on the
import of the word are about as numerous as the pens used in setting
them down; and they clash in hopeless confusion. Hodge enumerates no
less than six distinct acceptations in which the word has been taken;
while Stuart mentions eleven. The former covers seven pages in
discussing it; the latter, five.” In “A
New Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Saints in
Rome” (1945), Robertson L. Whiteside said (p.181)
these verses, “have given commentators no end of
trouble. No one has given an explanation that was satisfactory to all.
Where students differ so, it is not well for anyone to be overly
My Father, James W. Boyd,
wrote a commentary on Romans titled “System of
Salvation” (1990). Concerning this passage he
said, “We heartily concur with Peter in Second
Peter 3:16 when he said some of the writings of Paul are hard to
understand. This passage is one of them.” In a
recent Truth for Today Commentary on Romans,
published by Resource Publications (2014), David Roper (pp.43-53) takes
the view that the “creation” is
“the entire material universe other than the
human spirit.” He said that when Paul, “tied
our hope to the hope of all creation” that “he
did something unexpected.” He further said, “These
verses are unlike any other passage in the New Testament.” As
for the meaning of, “creation,” he
said, “There are a variety of viewpoints regarding
this question.” In a separate commentary on Romans
by the same publisher (2018), Paul Pollard said, “The
meaning of ktisis (creation) is debated.” He
offers several possibilities, and said, “Ben
Witherington III listed eight possible explanations, and after some
discussion, thought that it probably referred to ‘subhuman
creatures and nature’” (p.283). Note the
word “probably;” such humility
is commended. Pollard agrees with Witherington, but Pollard also says, “Biblical
support for the renovation theory is scanty and not convincing...we
should not press the language too far...one must be careful not to be
too dogmatic on this subject” (p.287).
These men have reached
different conclusions, but to their credit, they have offered their
comments with grace and maturity. The passage is almost universally
considered difficult. When latter day advocates of renewed earth
doctrines tell us that this is the easy passage to explain difficult
passages, it strains our opinions of their objectivity. As a friend, I
caution them about making their renewed earth theories the center of
their theologies, or of pushing their theories to the point of
contention, or of trying to force passages from other contexts into
support of their views. Appealing as their renewed earth ideas may be
to them, a “perhaps” is far
from a “proof.”
I beg your patience for a
word of personal defense. I have been writing about the renewed earth
issue in this publication, (Seek The Old Paths)
since September of 2018. I have been accused of misrepresenting the
views of renewed earth advocates, but I have not. I have been
challenged to present my sources for the views I have discussed, but I
hesitate to do so, especially when it comes to my brethren. I am after
the doctrines themselves, and not the persons advocating these
doctrines. I have a high regard for some of my brethren with whom I
disagree, and I would rather be accused of misrepresentation than to
turn this into a discussion of persons. However, in the follow-up to
this article I will identify some individuals with their views, and I
think after you read how I do so that you will agree that I have done
so judiciously and respectfully.
I have been told I need to
listen to renewed earth advocates. I have been listening, and I have
heard a lot of things.
1) Some have said the
renewed earth will be a restoration of the earth to its condition
before man sinned and will be for us a second material Eden, but the
text does not say that.
2) Others tell us the
renewed earth will be the elements of old earth reconstituted into an
improved physical creation better fitted for our resurrected spiritual
bodies, but the text does not say that either.
3) Some say that the earth
will not actually be destroyed, but only the evil will be removed,
along with the sky that separates the earth from heaven, and if we
accompany Jesus back to the earth we might get to be part of the
4) I read from one who said
that whatever happens to our home on earth will happen to
God’s home in heaven, and that therefore God’s own
heaven will be destroyed by fire along with the earth! Even if it could
be shown that the “creation” of
Romans 8 is, in whole or in part, the non-rational creation, this
itself does not dash our hope for a heavenly home, or require a renewal
of this present material earth.
5) Some suggest that the
non-rational creation will be incorporated into the heaven above where
Jesus has gone to prepare us a place, but some do not.
6) Some are not sure what
to do with hell; they offer various suggestions, including a denial
that everlasting punishment will be eternal in duration, but not all of
them affirm this. The Jehovah’s Witnesses keep heaven and
earth separate; they reserve heaven for the hundred and forty-four
thousand of Revelation 7:4, and preserve the earth as the eternal home
for everyone who is not annihilated.
If we can judge by book
sales, Randy Alcorn may be the most popular
advocate of a renewed earth. His book, “Heaven,”
has sold over a million copies. He writes of skydiving
without a parachute, scuba diving without an air tank, and of how we
may get our pets back.
Renewed earth advocates
bristle when it is suggested that they are fanaticizing, but
imaginative speculations abound. Sometimes it is difficult to tell
where their exegesis ends and their speculations begin. In fairness, it
is important to note that there is no one renewed earth model, and not
all renewed earth advocates are alike. On the down side, these multiple
clashing theories tend to discredit their validity.
I have facetiously said to
my friends that after my analysis of the passage in Romans 8 is
published, all controversies will cease. I hope none of them have taken
me seriously. In truth, I think we are going to grapple with this for
some time. In this present contentious environment I do not see a ready
In a following article, I
will present and critique three basic approaches to Romans 8:19-23. I
will tweak one of them as my own, and offer it to my readers for their
647 Finger Bluff Road
Morrison, TN 37357
Table of Contents
LISTEN TO LEARN & LEARN TO LISTEN
As we all know, any healthy
relationship is built around good communication. And good communication
is the result of our desire to carefully listen to people speaking to
us, especially our spouses. The marriage relationship greatly suffers
when one or both spouses stop listening. The so-called
“generation gap” is the result of poor
communication. Both sides may talk a lot about their problems, but if
neither side listens, effective communication has not taken place.
What about our relationship
to God in all of this? Does it not thrive on healthy communication? Do
we not grow spiritually when we speak to our heavenly Father in prayer
and carefully listen to His will through the pages of His word (Rev.
Regarding our listening
capability, one preacher was heard to say, “It’s so
hard for us to listen to learn, if we haven’t learned to
God recognizes our
difficulty in listening when He encourages us to “be
swift to hear” (James 1:19); to “take
heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18); and instructs, “He
that hath an ear, let him hear” (Rev. 2:7).
After our Lord reminded His
disciples of certain men whose “ears are dull
(hard) of hearing” (Matt. 13:15), He
commended his disciples by saying: “But blessed
are...your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16).
Table of Contents
stop sending the Seek The Old Paths
publication to me” ...Mike Peitzmeier, Carlinville,
IL. “My mother has been getting your religious
paper for a long time and enjoys it. Thank you” ...Queenie
Epling, Stanville, KY. “I would like to subscribe
to Seek The Old Paths. Thank you
for your efforts for the Kingdom” ...Archie Scott,
Hampton, VA. “Betty Colbert has passed
away” ...Beebe, AR. “Excellent
paper. Keep up the good work” ...Charles Hamilton,
Homer, LA. “The articles in STOP are great! Keep up
the good work” ...Bob Reich, Ranchester, WY.
“Thank you” ...T. Hutson, Willis Church
of Christ, Willis, TX. “Could you send me 10 more
copies to distribute to the church” ...Angela
Rowell, Dillon, SC. “Please put me on your mailing
list” ...Kay Wooding, South Bend, IN.
“In Matthew 18:6 Jesus said: ‘And whosoever shall
offend one of these little ones which believes in me, it were better
for him that a millstone be hanged about his neck, and drowned in the
depth of the Sea.’ Jesus loves little children. God told
Jeremiah that he knew him BEFORE he formed him in the belly (Jer. 1:6).
We should never believe that God will ok killing babies. He knew
everyone of us before we were conceived in our mother’s womb.
In order for me to become a human being, there had to be a body and a
spirit. My mother and father produced the body and God produced the
spirit (Eccl. 12:7)” ...Martin Decker, Burton, MI.
“Thank you for all the good works you do. Grace to you and
peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” ...Monika
Coates, Calhoun, LA. “Beatrice Lay has passed away.
The Lays enjoyed the paper for many years” ...Santee,
CA. “Please add me to your mailing list” ...Terry
Newkirk, Waveland, MS. “I enjoy so much reading Seek
The Old Paths. Thank you” ...Anonymous,
Dayton, OH. “I enjoy your paper” ...Pat
Caldwell, Jackson, TN. “I would like to receive
STOP please” ...Brenda Baldwin, Clarksville, TN.
“Love reading the articles. Have used some as a basic for a
sermon” ...Glen Thomas, Cookeville, TN.
“A friend gave me some copies of STOP. I was very impressed
and would like to subscribe. Thanks to those who make it
possible” ...Mossie Jean Moore, Marshall, TX.
“Please send a copy to my brother in Christ. We have so many
in our brotherhood that need the prayers of the Lord’s
church. Keep up the great and wonderful work you do for our Lord. God
bless” ...Bert Kramer, Modesto, CA.
“I have enjoyed and benefited from your Seek
The Old Paths paper. Please send it to my sister.
Thank you” ...C. A. Feenstra, Dickson, TN.
“Please reduce the number of STOP sent to us. We deeply enjoy
the publication and the material is always excellent. Thank you for
including us in your distribution program” ...A. R.
Huffman, Woodburn, KY. “I really enjoy your
publication. It has been a blessing and a wonderful source of truth for
me. Thank you” ...Anniston, AL.
“I just want to say thank you for Seek The
Old Paths. Thank you for loving the truth, the word
of God. I read it and I read it again. There are so many out there that
do not teach the word of God. They are sending souls to destruction.
Help all of us to study the word of God. We must live by it and we will
be judged by it” ...Bobbie Wheeler, Baxter, TN.
“Melvin Elliott, long time Gospel preacher, has passed
away” ...Kokomo, IN.
Cain and Abel were the sons
of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:1-2). Abel was a keeper of the sheep while Cain
was a tiller of the ground (Gen. 4:2). As time passed, these brothers
brought sacrifices to God. God accepted Abel’s offering but
rejected Cain’s offering (Gen. 4:4-5). This rejection caused
Cain to become angry and he vented his anger by killing his brother
(Gen. 4:5-6). In studying the whole Bible, we learn Cain disobeyed God
in the sacrifice he made. Abel offered his sacrifice “by
faith” (Heb. 11:4). Paul says, “so
then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
(Rom. 10:17). These two verses prove that Cain and Abel were told how
and what to sacrifice. Cain chose to sacrifice as he willed and to
disobey God’s word. God would have accepted his sacrifice if
he had obeyed (Gen. 4:7). Instead of repenting and obeying God, he
killed his brother (Gen. 4:8). Abel was the only one who did right in
his offering (Heb. 11:4). Cain was in sin (1 John 3:12). It is sad to
see Cain turn from God —just to have his own way (Jude 11).
Cain should be a great lesson for us today (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11).
We have people today that are members of churches that men established.
Instead of obeying God, they began their own church (Matt. 15:9; Mark
7:7-9). Instead of wearing the name of Christ, they wear the names of
men (1 Cor. 1:10-13). Men replace the plan God gave for man’s
salvation with their own plan (Matt. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). Some
churches accept fornicators into their worship but God says it is a sin
to do so (Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). God gave the command to sing in
worship but man changed this worship by adding instrumental music.
Where is their authority for that (Col. 3:17)? Many more things could
be added to this list of changes but these are enough to show that the
spirit of Cain is alive and well in the world today (Jude 11).
Earl B. Claud
836 Center Point Rd.
Dover, TN 37058
Table of Contents
(with a complete index) for the years of
1995-2002 can be ordered from:
2007 Francis Ferry Rd.
McMinnville, TN 37110
$5 postage paid
Bible Page |
Seek The Old Paths |
Church of Christ |