Words Of Truth
"That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth..." (Proverbs 22:21).
April 2017 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. Please be mindful that there are often circumstances and details to every question that could potentially change the answer. Rightly divide the truth (II Timothy 2:15).
1. “Do you agree with this? \ God’s word teaches that some of it is difficult to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). And practice influences understanding (Hebrews 5:11-14). Furthermore, no one except God has infallible knowledge. The necessary conclusion is it is all but certain that each of us misunderstands some portions of the scripture. So we must conclude that every congregation will teach and do some things wrong.”
Some things written in the Scriptures are harder to understand than other things as the Scriptures you cited state (II Peter 3:15-18). That is the difference between the “milk” of the word (I Peter 2:1-2) and the “meat” (Hebrews 5:14).
Having said that, that does not mean we cannot read and understand (Ephesians 3:1-4).
Spiritual maturity certainly impacts understanding. Again, the Scriptures you cited prove such. This is why growth is necessary (II Peter 1:3-10 and II Peter 3:18).
Sometimes people are not ready to learn for various reasons (Mark 4:30-34, John 16:1-13, and I Corinthians 3:1-3).
For those capable of learning, but not where they should be, it is shameful that they have not grown in knowledge as they should have (I Corinthians 15:34).
Understanding is necessary (Matthew 13:19 and Ephesians 5:17), and is a choice (John 8:43 and II Corinthians 3:12-16).
A key in understanding is honestly (II Corinthians 4:2) rightly dividing the word of truth (II Timothy 2:14-18).
Sometimes we need the help of the faithful to understand things (Nehemiah 8:8 and Acts 8:24-39).
Your conclusions are not necessary. Not even close. Not knowing everything does not mean a person or congregation is teaching and doing wrong. By exercising only what you KNOW is right (I Thessalonians 5:21) you avoid doing wrong (Romans 14:23).
Even in the first century, when all things were not yet revealed and they were essentially handicapped by a lack of revelation (I Corinthians 13:8-13), congregations were able and did do only what was right (i.e. Revelation 2:8-13 and Revelation 3:7-13). The same was true of individual Christians (I Corinthians 4:17, Ephesians 6:21, Colossians 1:2, Colossians 4:7, Colossians 4:9, I Peter 5:12, II John 1:4, and III John 1:1-6).
By concluding all in sin, due to ignorance, you are also saying that the Lord gives commands He knows we are not capable of filling. The Lord does expect us to be right in understanding and the application of His will as disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, John 8:31, Colossians 2:4-23, I Thessalonians 4:1-2, James 2:10-12, II John 1:9, etc.) and collectively as congregations (II Corinthians 13:11 and Ephesians 5:27).
The fact is, you can please God WHILE growing in knowledge (Colossians 1:10).
Think about the erring conclusion you’ve drawn… Based upon your “all but certain” conclusions there could never be elders as they are expected to be blameless amongst other qualifications your conclusions make impossible (I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9).
There is much, much more that could be said. I hope what I have shown you will lead you toward the truth away from your currently leanings. To sure up everything, notice this clear command: “Do not err, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16).
2. “I told our men we should change the name on the church sign because of all the Church of Christ problems. They said it would be sinful to do it. What do you think?”
What I think is irrelevant (Proverbs 3:5-7 and I Corinthians 4:6).
What the Lord says is what matters (Colossians 3:17 and II Peter 3:1-2).
There is no instruction for a sign or for a name to be posted anywhere identifying the Lord’s people. So that is irrelevant.
When saints/disciples/Christians/the elect, etc. assemble, we may Scripturally be recognized as “the church of God” (Acts 20:28, I Corinthians 1:2, I Corinthians 10:32, I Corinthians 11:22, I Corinthians 15:9, II Corinthians 1:1, Galatians 1:13, and I Timothy 3:5), “church of [a location]” (Acts 8:1, Acts 11:22, Acts 13:1, Romans 16:1, I Thessalonians 1:1, II Thessalonians 1:1, Revelation 2:18, Revelation 3:1, and Revelation 3:14), “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:22-23), “the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27; cf. Ephesians 4:4 and Colossians 3:15), “the church” (Acts 2:47, Acts 12:1, Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18, and Colossians 1:24), and “house of God” or “church of the living God” (I Timothy 3:15), “the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:27; cf. Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 5:23, and Colossians 1:18). I am not even saying that is a complete list.
The Lord’s people, when speaking of multiple congregations, are called “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). This is where local congregations find authority to be called “the church of Christ”. Some have concluded, in the present time, this is the most expedient and clear terminology to use since the church specifically belongs to Christ (Matthew 16:13-18 and Hebrews 3:1-5). Most do not understand that Christ is God (Romans 9:1-5) or what the “firstborn” means (Colossians 1:13-18).
From all of the information above, the name “church of Christ” is a bit more important to men that it is to the Lord. Faithful disciples of Christ are identified more by what we do and do not do, than by a name (I John 2:3-6).
I don’t want to seem like I am downplaying a name. There is something in a name (Acts 4:10-12).
Don’t allow the errors of men to sway you from standing upon any Scriptural identity from which we may identify ourselves to the world or brethren (Matthew 10:32-33).
Regardless of what Scriptural identity we might wear, errors in the church have been a problem since earliest days of the establishment of the church (Acts 15:1-35, I Corinthians 1:11, I Corinthians 15:12, I Corinthians 5:1-13, Galatians 1:6-9, Galatians 3:1-3, III John 1:9-11, Jude 1:3-4, etc.) and the name by which we are called has long been spoken evil against (James 2:7).
The church here in El Paso is not associated with most that identify themselves as “the church of Christ”. However, we are not ashamed to stand and identify ourselves as the Lord’s people by that name or any other Scriptural name we may be known by.
3. “Did Paul only teach Gentiles after Acts 13:46? I think also of Rom 11:13.”
No, (Acts 17:1-3, Acts 17:10-11, Acts 18:1-5, Acts 18:12, Acts 21:17-26, and Acts 28:17-31; cf. I Corinthians 9:19-27).
Additionally, the epistles Paul wrote were to congregations of Jews and Gentiles (i.e. Romans 1:13 and Romans 2:1-29).
4. “did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter’s life to God by her death or by giving her to God for work in God’s temple? I believe she was given to God for service in His temple as Hanah gave Samuel. Please give me help!”
Jephthah did as he vowed (Judges 11:39; cf. Deuteronomy 23:21-23 and Ecclesiastes 5:4-6).
He clearly vowed to sacrifice to God whatever came out first and what came first was his daughter: “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back… And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel” (Judges 11:30-35 and Judges 11:39).
5. “is it sin to be late to service?”
Well, that’s a broad question. I am guessing you are meaning to times when the brethren are assembling. Thus, I will attempt an answer for that standpoint.
Why is a person running late? Doesn’t the “why” really change any potential answer to this question?
We are shown that we must assemble on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7 and I Corinthians 16:1-2).
We are shown that forsaking the assembling of the saints, whenever and for whatever reason they are assembling, is sinful (Hebrews 10:22-25).
To elaborate, some are ignorant of the fact that the church is to assemble for reasons other than “worship” (Matthew 18:15-17, Acts 14:26-27, Acts 15:1-35, I Thessalonians 5:11-14, etc.).
Having said that, there is a necessary inference that some saints will, for some reason(s), be late to assemble with the saints and the congregation is commanded to wait for them to get to the place of the assembly (I Corinthians 11:33). With that Scriptural point, you have to conclude that it is not sinful to be late. The WHY they are late is the real issue.
If someone is late and it really bothers you, find out why. Talk to he or she. If it is a spiritual problem, proceed in a Scriptural manner (Matthew 18:15-17).
Maybe, just maybe, this is something that needs some forbearance for some reason (Romans 15:1-3).
Maybe, you might have to help someone with a burden that is making them late (Galatians 6:2). Find out WHY he, she, or they are late. Deal with the WHY.
6. “Is Isaiah 49:6 and Joel 2:25 about the restoration of the church in the 1800’s?”
The church never fell away to need restoration (Romans 11:1-5 and Hebrews 12:22-28).
Isaiah 49:1-7 is in reference to Christ’ first coming (Luke 2:25-32 and Acts 26:23).
Joel 2:25 is talking about Israel’s restoration (cf. Zechariah 10:6) that occurred even before the Gospel was preached in Acts 2 (Joel 2:28-32; cf. Acts 2:1-22). Joel was written to Israel in a time when God was punishing them and calling them to repent so that they could be restored (Joel 1:1-15). Their restoration put Judah back in Jerusalem and God among them (Joel 3:18-21). This was Old Testament prophesy and fulfillment.
For the future of your Biblical studies, you should know that all Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled either before Christ or by Christ. We know this because the Old Law could not pass away until all was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-20) and the Old Law has certainly been put away (Romans 7:1-6 and Hebrews 7:1-10:22).
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© 2017 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