July 2014 Questions / Answers
The following questions are taken from emails and are printed below exactly as I received them. Names and contact information has been removed. The answers are in note form (sorry for any of my grammar errors) to be studied through. You’ll have to examine each Scripture below to see the points.
Š I want to start by saying that, if you’re looking for Scriptures to disprove someone’s view of this error, you should start by asking them to prove their doctrine rather than engaging in affirming a negative. The burden of proof for a doctrine is on the one teaching it, not on the one questioning it (Acts 17:10-11 and I Thessalonians 5:21).
Š If a person is honest, the Scriptures do show that one can fall away (Matthew 27:1-5, Luke 8:13, Luke 15:1-32, John 6:60-66, Acts 8:12-24, Acts 20:28-31, I Corinthians 9:24-27, I Corinthians 10:12, Galatians 1:6-9, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 5:4, Galatians 5:7-9, I Timothy 1:19-20, I Timothy 4:1, II Timothy 2:14-18, II Timothy 4:3, II Timothy 4:10-15, Hebrews 3:12-13, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-31, II Peter 2:1-3, II Peter 2:20-22, I John 2:18-19, Revelation 2:1-7, and Revelation 22:18-19).
2. “I was recently at a Sunday morning church service the Evangelist was preaching on 1st Corinthians about not being unequally yoked with unbelievers in the context of marriage he said it is a sin for a believer to marry a non believer then he said he would disfellowship anybody from here forward in this church who married non believers does he have the biblical authority to disfellowshipped a believer for marrying a non believer. Is that right? I had a conversation with one of the elders of the church I told him that I do not see any example of a believer being disfellowshipped for marrying a non believer in the Bible. Apparently there are several Christians in the process of marrying non Christians in this church he the elder said he an other elders discussed it and studied various scriptures and came to that conclusion they had the authority in the context of protecting the church to dis fellowship the believers and not welcome the non-believers any longer although I was very confused and biblically ignorant on this subject I knew in my heart what they were saying was wrong if you have any more thoughts on this subject I'd be more than happy to read your emails thank you for your help.”
Š I am guessing that you are meaning the man in question preached a sermon on II Corinthians 6:14-18. That context is not discussing marriage. In fact, the verses are directly speaking about idolatry and walking away from the sin of idolatry (cf. I Corinthians 10:14 and I John 5:21).
Š While marrying a non-Christian could be dangerous (i.e. I Corinthians 15:33) and troublesome (Matthew 12:25), it is not sinful for a Christian to be married to a non-Christian.
Š I can say this because the Scriptures reveal that a Christian may be married to a non-Christian and remain in that marriage (I Corinthians 7:12-13 and I Peter 3:1-6).
Š The only other thought I would have to add to what I wrote you already is that if being married to a non-Christian constituted sin and required one to be withdrawn from, you’d have to also conclude that repentance would require divorce (Acts 26:20 and II Timothy 2:19). That would be a “new” cause for putting away a mate that is certainly contrary to Matthew 19:3-9 and I Corinthians 7:10-11).
Š Preachers and elders do not have authority to create laws (Matthew 15:1-14 and Acts 15:1-32). We’re only permitted to teach what Christ authorizes (Matthew 28:18-20).
3. “I would ask, if a congregation of Christians are practicing sound doctrine but assemble under another biblical name other than the church of Christ, are they in error?”
Š In addition to the terminology “church of Christ” or “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) there are other terms used in the Scriptures to describe the church.
Š The church is Scripturally called the “church of God” (Acts 20:28, I Corinthians 1:2, etc.), “the church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and even “the church at…” in reference to locations where Christians assembled (Acts 13:1, Romans 16:1, etc.).
o Clearly, the church belongs to Christ (Matthew 16:18).
o They understood, in the first century, that “church of God” referred to Christ since He was God (John 1:1-5 and Romans 9:1-5). They knew that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit did not die to purchase the church (Ephesians 5:25).
o The “church of the firstborn” points to Christ (Colossians 1:13-18). Again, they understood He was the firstborn from the dead.
o One thing an honest group of people would consider is that what is lawful is not always expedient (I Corinthians 10:23). For example, saying “church of the firstborn”, would be unclear as many would not know you’re referring to Christ
Š There is something in a name (Acts 4:10-12). I am not sure which “biblical name” you are asking me about. Can you elaborate?
Š “The church” might be lawful (Acts 2:47), but not very expedient. “The church” could describe any assembly (even a mob; Acts 19:32 - the Greek word "ἐκκλησία; ekklēsia” is used there, same word as in Matthew 16:18, Acts 2:47, etc., etc.).
Š Therefore, this discussion amongst honest people often is more about what is lawful and expedient. Generally speaking though, when people ask questions like this they are often not honest (i.e. Matthew 22:15 and Mark 12:13), but rather trying to downplay identifying oneself as a member of the church of Christ.
Š At the same time, Christians must never become like the denominations in joining so hard to a name that truth is lost for allegiance to a name (I Corinthians 1:10-13).
4. “How do we determine what matters fall into Romans 14?”
Š The language of your question is dangerous. Anytime man begins to try and insert something into a Scriptural application, danger is certainly present (Proverbs 21:2).
Š We cannot put something into Romans 14:1-23 that is not there (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6, and Revelation 22:18-19).
Š What SCRIPTURALLY fits into Romans 14 are matters of authorized liberties…
o Eating of certain meats is something that is a liberty in that we can eat anything, but do not have to do so (I Corinthians 8:8). It falls into Romans 14 because it is in the text (Romans 14:1-3).
o The personal observance of one day over another is granted as a liberty from God. God made you or I the standard in our own personal lives (Romans 14:5). The exception is if we make a day “religious” (Galatians 4:9-10).
o These personal liberties are restricted in that if they cause a weak brother or sister in Christ to stumble we are to give up our personal liberty on those matters (Romans 14:13-15 and I Corinthians 8:9).
Š To clarify something… We need authority for all that we say and do (Colossians 3:17). If what you do is good you can prove that through the Scriptures (II Timothy 3:15-17). An authorized liberty is something God permits us a choice in doing or not doing. If you cannot turn in the Scriptures and find something authorized as a choice, then Romans 14 does not apply in any way except for NOT doing that thing that you cannot do in faith (Romans 14:23). How do you obtain faith (Romans 10:17)???
Š Romans 14 does not authorize brethren to “agree to disagree” either. That would contradict other Scriptures (John 17:20-23, I Corinthians 1:10, Philippians 2:2, Philippians 3:16, and II John 9-11).
Š All must agree on things covered in Romans 14, though some may choose not to do those things.
o An illustration is marriage. Marriage is a choice. You may or may not get married (I Corinthians 7:1-9).
o If someone began to forbid marriage, they then would be teaching a doctrine of demons (I Timothy 4:1-5).
5. “Having studied the cults and new religions for well over 40 years, I am quite curious why you have included in the above series, articles on cults (Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Scientists, Seventh Day Adventist, and the largest cult of all, the Roman Catholics) and articles on world religions (Muslims [Islam] and Buddhism). Time and again when I see such articles on church of Christ sites, they fail to differentiate between ‘cults,’ ‘religions,’ and "denominations.’ It makes the authors of such articles look quite foolish. Claiming to be ‘the Lord's church" or ‘the only true church’ as the coC folk have done in such diatribes, is the first ‘red flag’ of a cult. You and other coC ‘evangelists’ claim to ‘preach the Gospel’ - wh! ich is but a small bit of the truth. Seems to me there is more interest in bashing other Christians and trying to convert them to you way of thinking. I find it quite appalling that the coC doesn't stick to preaching the Gospel, and if they want to do apologetics, then for the love of God, focus the attention on the cults, not other Christians! God is judge - not any coC preacher!”
Š I cannot speak for other churches of Christ you have studied (many are likely erring). I can only speak in regard to the churches of Christ you read about in the Scriptures, of which I have been added to through obedience to the Gospel of Christ (Acts 2:41-47).
o There is only one church (Ephesians 4:1-6).
o Christ is the head of that one church (Ephesians 1:22-23).
o He is the Savior of that one church (Ephesians 5:23).
Š Authors of the articles you read or of your research (including me) are not the standard of authority. The Scriptures are (John 5:39, II Timothy 3:15-17, and II Peter 1:3-4).
Š If that [following the Scriptures] makes me part of a “cult”, so be it. Charges like that are nothing new to real Christians (Acts 24:1-5).
Š Differentiating between “cults, religions, and denominations” is not a focus of faithful Christians because it doesn’t matter. I did not mark them as different in my articles on denominationalism because they all are equally damned (James 2:10-12).
o Let it be said, I even included erring “churches of Christ” in those series of articles (http://www.wordsoftruth.net/denom/denomexposed.html).
o “Whosoever” includes Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, JW’s, erring Christians, etc. (II John 1:9).
o In fact, if you want to argue that one is worse than another, one would have to reason that it would be members of churches of Christ, Christians, who have fallen away (I Peter 4:17-19 and II Peter 2:20-22).
Š In regard to bashing “other Christians”, the people that you call Christians are not Christians. Christians are disciples of the Lord (Acts 11:26). That means a Christian is someone set free from sin and continues in the word of the Lord (John 8:31-32). Baptists, Methodists, Community Churches, etc. are not even close to being Christians.
Š You used the word “Apologetics”, which means: “reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine” (New Oxford American Dictionary). This word does not make sense with what you are attempting to say. You appear to be trying to say that exposing error is wrong -judgmental. To answer the concept you have of not judging, writing against cults instead of “Christians”, etc.; here are Scriptural thoughts you need to consider:
o Exposing false teaching and false teachers is a command Christians are expected to obey (Romans 16:17-18).
o We see inspired examples of it (Acts 13:6-12, I Timothy 1:19-20, and III John 1:9-11).
o Christians are commanded to judge [spiritually / righteously; not carnally minded or wrongfully – James 4:11-12] self (II Corinthians 13:5) and others (Matthew 7:15-20, Matthew 18:15-17, John 7:24, I Corinthians 5:1-13, and Philippians 3:16-19). This even applies to some carnal matters (I Corinthians 6:1-8).
Š One more thing that I often find about people like yourself who ask make these charges that I am judging others and wrong in doing so. What are you doing (cf. Matthew 7:1-5)?????
© 2014 This material may not be used for sale or other means to have financial gain. Use this as a tool for your own studies if such is helpful! Preachers are welcome to this work, but please do not use my work so that you can be lazy and not do your own studies. – Brian A. Yeager