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Pointing Fingers at Others

Saturday, June 27, 2020

POINTING FINGERS AT OTHERS
Roger Campbell

        See if any of this sounds familiar: the prime minister or president blames the legislature and the legislature blames the top ruling figure in the country. The national government blames the state/provincial governments and the state/provincial governments blame the national government. The coach blames the players and the players blame the coach. The teacher blames the parents and the parents blame the teacher. The husband blames the wife and the wife blames the husband. The overseers blame the congregation and the congregation blames the overseers.
        When we say “pointing fingers,” we refer to placing the blame for something on someone else. If a blatant mistake occurs, some activity does not go well, or if something is left undone that should have been done, people often begin pointing fingers.
        Finger-pointing is not something that is limited to one gender, one culture, one financial class of people, or those from one level of educational training. It is something that folks from all walks of life do, and it knows no geographic boundaries.
        Finger-pointing has been around since the population of the earth was only two people! After Eve and Adam violated God’s instructions by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they began making excuses. And in this case, their excuses involved pointing fingers at someone else, as if blaming someone else for their misdeed somehow would erase the reality of their own sinful conduct.
        After the transgressions took place in the Garden of Eden, God asked Adam, “Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat” (
Gen. 3:11)? What was Adam’s response? “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (3:12). Adam admitted that he ate the fruit, but, at least in part, he was pointing a finger at someone else. He pointed a finger at Eve, saying she gave him the fruit. And, his words also had “the ring” of blaming God for giving him the women who gave him the fruit.
        Well, what about Eve? She, too, did some finger-pointing. When Jehovah asked her, “What is this that thou hast done” (3:13), she admitted that she had, in fact, eaten the fruit, but her complete statement was, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (3:13). Instead of taking full responsibility for her failure, she pointed a finger at the serpent.
        In the next book of the Bible, we again read of a person who sinned against God, but rather than “man up” and show remorse for his evil-doing, he tried to place the blame on someone else. We are talking about Aaron, the first high priest of Israel and older brother of Moses. What sin did Aaron commit? He led the Israelites in building and worshipping a golden calf. Moses’ question to his elder brother was, “What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them” (
Exodus 32:21). Aaron’s wimpy, finger-pointing answer was, “Thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us. ... And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf” (Exodus 32:22-24). At whom did Aaron point a finger? At “the people.” Aaron gave a cowardly, nonsensical, blame-others response. God’s people deserve better leadership than that!
        In contrast to the finger-pointers in the world, when King David messed up by committing adultery and other evil deeds, rather than blame someone else, he “told it like it was.” With no stipulations or attempt to minimize his guilt, David declared, “I have sinned against the LORD” (
2 Samuel 12:13). His sin was ugly, but his spirit of repentance and taking responsibility for his grievous error was beautiful.
        The Bible says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (
Rom. 14:12). It also is written that the God of judgment “will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). When we stand before the judgment seat of the risen Son of God, pointing a finger at others will not remove the guilt of any transgressions we have committed.
        If a sin was committed, but we had no involvement in it, we are not responsible for it. On the other hand, if we broke God’s law or failed in some manner when others were counting on us, let us be mature enough to admit our fault, take responsibility for our action, and strive to do better in the future.

Understanding the Bible

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Understanding the Bible

Dub McClish

Nothing is more obvious than that men who profess belief in the Bible do not understand it alike. Some believe this is inevitable or even good. If so, why does the Bible command that we “all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you” (1 Cor. 1: 10)? We are to “walk by the same rule” (Phi. 3:16), so it must be possible for us to understand what the Bible teaches. 

The greater question may be, “Why do men not understand the Bible alike?” The Bible provides several answers.

IgnoranceBecause of ignorance of their “Bible” the Jews crucified Jesus, and Saul persecuted Him (Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:13). Earnest Bible study is necessary to overcome ignorance. One can hardly understand what he does not know.

DeceptionMany are victims of false teachers (Mat. 7:15). Jesus warned: “Take heed that no man lead you astray” (Mat. 24: 44). Blind teachers and their students will be lost (15:14).

Human traditionsReligious traditions were more import-ant than the Bible to the Jews of Jesus’ time (Mat. 15:6). Human traditions are many and varied, whether unauthorized by Scripture or mere optional preferences that are bound as law, they prevent men from understanding and following the Bible. Such things as infant “baptism,” instrumental music in worship, “Easter,” et al., are unauthorized human traditions, rather than Biblical practices.  The times of worship assemblies, the order of worship in our assemblies, etc., are not specified, thus “traditional,” and to bind them is to confuse God’s Law with the prefer-ences of men.

PrejudiceJeremiah wrote of those in Jerusalem “that have eyes, and see not; that have ears, and hear not” (5:21). The Jews of Jesus’ time had their minds “made up” that the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom like David’s, so they rejected His teaching concerning His spiritual kingdom, the church (Mat. 16:18–19). Vast millions make the same mistake today in their biased and mistaken millennial “hopes.”

ConvenienceJeroboam enticed his nation to stay at home and worship his idols, saying, “It is too much to go up to Jerusalem” (1 Kin. 12:28). Roman Catholicism popularized effusion (pouring of water) in place of immersion for baptism beginning in the twelfth century becauseit was more “convenient” than immersion. Most Protestant churches find it “inconvenient” to serve the Lord’s Supper each Sunday. The Truth is often set aside for sake of convenience.

Sincerity aloneWe must be sincere in our devotion to God, but sincerity alone was insufficient for Cornelius; he still had to hear and obey the Gospel to be saved (Acts 10:33; 11:14). Yet many have been led to believe that if one is sincere in his convictions, it makes no difference what they believe or practice in religion. If sincerity is all that matters, why do we even need the Bible?

All of the foregoing factors are obstructions to understanding the Bible. Those who pervert the Scriptures do so to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).

 

On Civil Disobedience

Sunday, June 14, 2020

On Civil Disobedience

Dub McClish

Only two spheres/sources of authority exist—human and Divine: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mat. 22:21; cf. 21:25). Divine authority is supreme—whether or not men acknowledge it—and He will eventually exercise it utterly (Mat. 25:31–46). Since the incarnation of the pre-incarnate Word in the Person of Jesus Christ, Deity has exercised Divine authority through Him. Jesus possesses “all authority...in heaven and on earth” and He is “far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Mat. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:22–25; Eph. 1:21; cf. 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 1:5). 

Civil authority as an entity exists with God’s sanction: “The powers (not necessarily the person in power) that be are ordained of God...” (Rom. 13:1; cf. 1 Pet. 2:13–15), and rulers are ideally “ministers of God” (vv. 4, 6) to reward/protect good works and to punish evil works (v. 3; cf. 1 Pet. 2:13). Those who fail to do so, fail both the public they are sworn to protect and their God-given duty. Generally, Inspiration charges us to obey civil authorities: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers,” and resistance amounts to withstanding God’s will (Rom. 13:1–2; cf. Tit. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13). Thus Paul commands us to pray “for kings and all that are in high place” (1 Tim. 2:1–2). In light of the foregoing, can a Christian, with the Lord’s approval, ever resist the laws of his government? The Bible clearly answers that he not only can, but in certain circumstances, he must refuse to obey them—thus engaging in “civil disobedience.” Consider some Biblical examples of such God-approved behavior:

• The midwives’ ignoring of Pharaoh’s order to slay the Hebrew newborn boys

• Moses’ resisting Pharaoh’s refusal to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt

• David’s fleeing and hiding from Saul—protracted civil disobedience

• Shadrach’s, Meshach’s, and Abednego’s refusal to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s idol

• Daniel’s refusal to stop praying, although prohibited by law to do so

• The Magis’ defiance of Herod’s order for them to report the location of the infant Jesus

The case involving the apostles and the Sanhedrin court is particularly illustrative. Jesus had ordered them to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8), but the court ordered Peter and John, under threat of physical harm, to cease preaching (4:18). When all of the apostles were arrested for resuming their preaching the court reminded them of its earlier ban. Peter responded with words for the ages whenever servants of God are faced with human-Divine law conflicts: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

As then, so always: civil government is no better than the persons who sit in seats of power and make laws, as our founding fathers well recognized. John Adams summed up this recognition: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion....” Morality and religion referred to principles imposed by the Bible.

Consummately evil autocrats who neither fear God nor regard man (Luke 18:2) have for some time controlled our nation’s levers of power. The ruling of five such black-robed unelected amoral despots imposed their will upon 300+ million citizens on June 26, 2015, usurping the authority of Almighty God regarding the meaning of marriage—God’s oldest institution, predating all civil governments. This new edict places all true servants of God on the wrong side of the law, portending grievous, far-reaching effects for those who refuse to bow down before it.

Let us pray that evil people in power will be deposed and that people who have Biblically-rooted moral values will gain influence. Let us obey civil government in every way that does not violate God’s Word, but let us steel ourselves to resist any and every law that contradicts God’s Word—whatever the cost (Rev. 2:10).

They Went Out From Us

Friday, June 05, 2020

“THEY WENT OUT FROM US”
Marvin L. Weir

        It is imperative to know where you are and whether or not you should be there. Christians are to be followers of Christ. Brethren today who have drifted so very far from the truth did not follow Christ to get there. The question of Amos is as revealing today as it was when originally asked: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)? The obvious answer is a resounding “NO!” Israel chose to turn her back on Jehovah, forsaking Him for other “gods.” Did Israel agree with God? Were they walking with God? Absolutely not! Adam Clarke comments as follows: “While ye loved and served me, I dwelt in you and walked among you. Now ye are become alienated from me, your nature and mine are totally opposite. I am holy, ye are unholy. We are no longer agreed, and can no longer walk together. I can no longer hold communion with you. I must cast you out.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database, Biblesoft, Inc.).

        This Bible principle is as true today as it was during the days of Amos. Peter admonishes those to whom he writes: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Christ always did the will of His Father (John 4:34; 5:19). The “steps of the Father” and the “steps of Christ” do not travel in opposite directions. John writes to the elect lady and her children, whom he loves in the truth, saying, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 8-11).

        When will a brother or sister lose the things they have wrought for the cause of Christ? Answer: when they go onward and abide not in the teaching (doctrine) of Christ! We are now living (and have been for many years) in a time when so many members of the Lord’s church are “jumping traces” and refusing to follow the lead of Christ. Many brethren now take great pride in adamantly refusing to submit to the authority of Christ. Denominational gimmicks and the innovations of those consumed with secular education now replace, in many congregations, the simplicity and wisdom of the Word of God.
        Before we comment on what John instructs the faithful to do, let us note some instructions John DOES NOT give.

  • Show support for false teaching and tolerate error.
  • Encourage brethren who persist in error.
  • Aid and assist brethren who steadfastly refuse to abide in the teaching of Christ.
  • Fellowship those who have not God.
  • Accept the false teacher’s word that he is not a false teacher in spite of his false teaching.
  • Employ “situation ethics” and cry that in certain situations the church must abandon authorized Scripture and implement man-made plans.
  • Give brethren 30 years with full fellowship to see if they will come to their senses and repent.

        Now, let us observe what John instructs faithful brethren to do when individuals and congregations depart from the faith and refuse to repent. Christians who depart from the truth, take pride in so doing and refuse to repent, qualify as “antichrists” and should not be fellowshipped (1 John 2:18-19). What must faithful brethren do?

  • Understand that one who refuses to abide in God’s Word does not have fellowship with God.
  • Be willing to stand in the truth even if they must give up friends so that they can have fellowship with the Father and Son.
  • One who is a false teacher must not be received in the same manner as a teacher of truth.
  • One who is a false teacher must not be greeted as if he is a sound teacher.
  • When one, in any way, aids, encourages (to sit at his feet and listen encourages him), assists, or promotes a false teacher, he is guilty of partaking “in his evil works.”

        Brethren, it is not the fault of the faithful that erring members of the body choose to go “out from us.” In so doing, however, these erring brethren prove they are not “...of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us” (1 John 2:19).
        Again we ask, “Shall two walk together, except they be agreed” (
Amos 3:3)? Let us steadfastly refuse to walk hand in hand with error!

Mainline or Sidetrack?

Friday, May 29, 2020

"Mainline" Or "Sidetrack"?

Dub McClish

In a syndicated newspaper column a few years ago, William Murchison laid bare the insipidity of the liberalism of certain "mainline" Protestant denominations. He based his column on a poll involving the Methodist, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ (not to be confused with the church of Christ). The poll concluded: "The Mainline Protestant Leaders are liberal on every dimension" (i.e., political, social theological, moral, et al.). Murchison noted the steady decline of these religious bodies (e g., Methodists have lost 1.4 million since 1970). Rebellions in the ranks of the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, and others are also observable. The ultra-liberal National Council of Churches is almost dead. The Southern Baptists are in turmoil involving liberal resistance to its generally strong comparatively conservative elements.

It is ironic that just about the time that liberalism has proved itself hollow, deceptive, and devoid of any benefit in Protestantism, many of our brethren are gorging themselves on it as manna from Heaven. Liberals in the church should take warning that the gimmicks and gadgets which may now be producing artificial growth must eventually fail them as they have Protestantism. Many of the folks in our pews have been “suckered” into uncritically swallowing such things, either because of their ignorance or their lack of courage. Some have welcomed the liberal trends gladly in their desire to throw off restraints. Others have stood or will stand up, saying, "Enough is enough! We will forbear no longer"! Such faithful brethren in some cases have been/will be able to cast out the Gospel-perverters who fill the pulpits and/or remove the pseudo-elders who allowed and/or encouraged apostasy and apostates. Where they cannot root out such malefactors the faithful are departing and are building new congregations on the solid rock foundation of Truth instead of on the sinking sands of doctrinal compromise, pop-psychology, fun and games, and numbers-at-any-price. Sadly, these climactic upheavals will result in the disillusionment and eternal loss of many, for which the change agents must answer.

It is interesting (and almost humorous) to hear some of these brethren describing the church to the Independent Christian Church folks in their current "irenic" bid for union with them. “Our” liberals depict themselves as the "mainline" folk or the "mainstream" of the Lord’s church and those who oppose their ungodly union efforts (especially those who oppose the instrument) as merely a dissenting, disgruntled, radical element. I opine that long ago the self named "mainline" folk who are running pell-mell toward denominationalism pulled a “switch” that diverted them to a dead-end sidetrack. These brethren are no more "mainline" than the liberal denominations are. Wherever God is, there the "mainline" is, however many (or few) are found thereon.

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