Index by Subject

Associate Editorial: Response from Marty Pickup

Editor’s Note: Marty Pickup responded to brother Robert’s article, which appeared in the May issue of brother Robert’s mail out bulletin, The Communicator, and was reprinted in the June 2004 Issue of Watchman.  Brother Pickup’s response, and brother Robert’s rejoinder were printed in the July 2004 issue of The Communicator.  Since the initial article was published in Watchman, we thought best to publish this exchange as well.

Response From Marty Pickup

June 9, 2004

Dear brother Roberts:

Yes, you continue to grossly misrepresent me. I did not say, nor do I believe the false idea you attribute to me: “We should consider the account of the serpent was a pagan myth.” I never said in my FC lecture, nor do I believe, that the serpent of Genesis 3 might be a pagan myth. I never said, nor do I believe, that the serpent of Genesis 3 might be mythological. Such views are just as repugnant to me as they are to you.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Response from Marty Pickup

Associate Editorial: Have I Become Your Enemy?

Editor’s Note:  Brother Roberts edits the Forest Hills church of Christ Communicator, a monthly mail out bulletin.  This article appeared in the May 2004 issue of that paper.  While local references are made, the principles are timely and important for all Christians to note.  As such, we appreciate the opportunity to give his article an even wider reading in this issue of Watchman.

“Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
(Galatians 4:16)

Jesus, the wise and perfect Master Teacher was not gladly received by all who heard him. We must realize that Jesus always had the right attitude, chose the right words, expressed the truth, and spoke with clarity. But some resented the truth that he taught. “Therefore many of his disciples when thy heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured about this, he said to them, ‘Does this offend you?'” (John 6:60-61). Without debate, we can conclude that the fault lay with the listeners, not the speaker. Jesus taught the truth and some hated him for that very reason. Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Have I Become Your Enemy?

Associate Editorial: Ask Your Preacher

A number of years ago, a popular series of articles ran in various bulletins and publications and were used in sermons which urged people in the denominational world to “Ask Your Preacher” where the Bible teaches….infant baptism, instrumental music, the doctrine of faith only, etc. The series was designed to raise awareness among denominational people that their preachers could not defend certain doctrines inherent in their beliefs and practices. It was an effective method of urging people to read their Bibles, examine their practices in the light of scripture, and question the preaching of those who could not provide book, chapter and verse for their doctrines.

Is the church of Christ immune to error? Should we not have the same attitude of urging our own brethren to read their Bibles, examine our own practices and question the preaching of those who do not provide book, chapter and verse for what we believe and practice? It was said of the Bereans that they “were more noble (fair minded) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Do we get a free pass to believe and practice whatever we want since we are “the church” and “our traditions” are beyond question?

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Ask Your Preacher

Associate Editorial: Florida College at the Crossroads

Which Way: Academic Freedom or Biblical Accuracy?

There is a sure and certain conflict of interest between academic freedom and Biblical accuracy. Those who endorse academic freedom insist on the right of every position on any issue to have equal weight. Those who believe the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant word of God endorse only “the faith” (Jude 3) which is inspired by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). When conflicts arise between so-called “science” and Biblical accuracy, Christians cannot endorse total academic freedom.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Florida College at the Crossroads

Third Affirmative

Proposition 2: The Scriptures teach that the elders of a local church are authorized to assemble privately to make decisions in matters of judgment for the local church before and without calling together the whole congregation.

With this affirmative, my part of the debate comes to a close and judgment is passed to the readers. Please consider all the material carefully in the light of the scriptures and render a verdict on the evidence. The full debate, without additional material, is to be printed in book form as per our agreement. No new material should be introduced in the final negative.

My Third Affirmative will establish from Generic Authority that the scriptures permit elders to make decisions in the realm of unstated options (judgments), arising from specific commands.

Continue reading » Third Affirmative

Second Affirmative

Proposition 2: The Scriptures teach that the elders of a local church are authorized to assemble privately to make decisions in matters of judgment for the local church before and without calling together the whole congregation.

My first affirmative showed that the definitions of scriptural terms (bishops, elders, etc.) permitted elders to “exercise the oversight” (1 Pet. 5:3), thereby empowering them to make private decisions on behalf of the congregation. Now we will prove in a scripture study that elders actually did make decisions “before and without” calling together the whole congregation.

Arguments: 1) Acts 4:34-37. From the beginning, decisions were made privately (not secretly, as Vance charges): this is not “new” doctrine. Disciples brought gifts to the apostles “and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” This “apostolic example” showed male leadership making private decisions about who the needy were, how much each received and how long they were to receive it, without congregational meetings. Vance says they sinned!

Continue reading » Second Affirmative

First Affirmative

Proposition 2: The Scriptures teach that the elders of a local church are authorized to assemble privately to make decisions in matters of judgment for the local church before and without calling together the whole congregation.

Proposition: “Resolved: The scriptures teach that the elders of a local church are authorized to assemble privately to make decisions in matters of judgment for the local church before and without calling together the whole congregation.”

Definitions: “The scriptures,” the 66 books of the Bible. “Teach,” instruct by commands, approved examples or divine implications. “Elders,” men who are scripturally authorized and appointed (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1) over each local church (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2). “Local church,” the congregation in a given locality in its corporate entity (Phil. 1:1). “Authorized,” empowered, permitted. “To assemble,” meet in their eldership capacity (Acts 20:17). “Privately,” (Gk: idios) “pertaining to one’s own; to do one’s own business (1 Thes. 4:11), apart (Mt. 24:3)” (Thayer, p. 296-7). “To make decisions,” come to a conclusion. “In matters of judgment,” distinct from matters of faith. “For the local church,” represent, act on behalf of, in the interest of the local congregation. “Before,” in advance of. “And without,” lacking, in the absence of. “Calling together,” summoning, requesting. “The whole congregation,” the ekklesia.

Continue reading » First Affirmative

Third Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

The responsibility of the negative in a debate is to follow the affirmative and answer his arguments. I have done this and Vance’s proposition has failed. My three affirmatives will follow in a privately printed book which can be obtained from GOT.

Fellowship: Vance labels as sinful the practice of elders making decisions. Will he fellowship what he considers sinful? His views will divide brethren in local churches.

Leadership & Authority: Collectivities (congregations, families, etc.) require decision-making to reach a common mind, whether by elders or church votes. Leadership and authority are inherent in decisions. Evangelists and Bible class teachers have no authority but elders do (1 Pet. 5:3). This oversight includes private decision-making (Acts 6, 11, 15, etc.). I refuse to debate Luther Blackmon or any other than Vance. But if Christ has “all authority” (Matt. 28:18) without delegating any, explain why resisting authorities (magistrates, fathers, husbands, elders) is to resist God (Rom. 13:1-5; Eph. 6:4; 5:22; Acts 14:23).

Continue reading » Third Negative

Second Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

My worst fears are being realized in that, as the debate advances, Vance is progressing deeper into error, affirming a position with dreadful consequences of feminine equality and denial of eldership oversight which some will accept. The negative requires that I answer his material yet not allow him to side-track me into debating other men or affirming a non-existent “GOT” position. I fear he confuses criticism of a public position with persecution (Matt. 5:11).

Continue reading » Second Negative

First Negative

Proposition 1: The Scriptures teach that the pattern of decision-making in matters of congregational judgment must always include the whole church (including women) under male leadership in all local churches (both with and without elders).

This debate is important because Vance suggests a radical departure from the practice of the NT and makes his unscriptural “pattern” a test of fellowship. As one who serves as an evangelist and an elder in a local church, I deny his affirmative as both unscriptural and impractical. Our difference is not personal nor is his honesty or sincerity impugned.

Continue reading » First Negative

Associate Editorial: Decades of Discontent

What is wrong with the church of Christ?

If you say, “Nothing, it is the Lord’s church, and I am satisfied with what the Bible reveals about it,” you might be in a minority position. Many are ready to change the work, worship and structure of the church of Christ, including its identity as the “church of Christ.” Are you aware of what is happening?

We have been through decades in which many have sought to change the Lord’s church into something more tolerant and imitative of denominational theology. The exclusiveness of truth and those characteristics that identify God’s people from those of the denominational world are being eroded in many places. We see the evidence of it in the Tampa Bay area and around the nation. Consider some of the issues that the Lord’s people are facing:

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Decades of Discontent

Associate Editorial: Brethren, It’s Time to Take a Stand

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:10-14).

This admonition from the beloved apostle Paul should not be taken lightly.  He knew, because the Holy Spirit had told him “expressly” (pointedly, specifically) that some would “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1).  He also told the Ephesians that some would be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (4:14).  This warning by our brother Paul is not for his generation only, but will be as true for us as it was for them.  “Winds of doctrine” will blow across the brotherhood and we must “take a stand” or be swept away with them.  While there are those who are content to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the strange doctrines that are blowing in our day, those who pay attention to the word of God realize that winds are blowing as much today as they were in apostolic times.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Brethren, It’s Time to Take a Stand

Associate Editorial: Unwilling to Communicate?

“Remove me from your mailing list”

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea…” (Matthew 3:1). John had a message and he proclaimed it widely and publicly — “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 2).  Not everyone liked what John had to say, but he was communicating the will of God. Luke tells us that “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him” (7:30). Experience and history tells us that communication is sometimes a one-way proposition, though it is intended to be an exchange of ideas.

It is said of Jesus: He “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…” Matthew 9:35. But He knew that “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priest and scribes” (Luke 9:22). The Master Teacher was unable to reach many of His day and they turned a deaf ear to the proclamation of the Good News. They crucified Him even while He was willing to communicate God’s will.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Unwilling to Communicate?

Associate Editorial: The Importance of Biblical Preaching

"Preach the word," was Paul’s instruction to Timothy, the young evangelist (2 Tim. 4:2). The apostle Peter also said, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11). Though they lived in the "Golden Age of Greece" when philosophy was so prevalent, both of these inspired apostles directed evangelists to base their preaching solidly on God’s revealed word. In fact, Paul made direct reference to the difference between human wisdom and divine wisdom when he wrote to the church at Corinth, an ancient pagan city. "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Cor. 1:20). The wisdom of the world did not acknowledge even the existence of God. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (v. 21).

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: The Importance of Biblical Preaching

Associate Editorials: Communication and the Word of God

"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).  Without hearing the word of God, there can be no faith.

That is why communication is so important.  God wants to communicate to us and does so through the Holy Scriptures.  But if we don’t study, if we don’t read, God is not able to communicate. If God had chosen to do so, He could have written His will across the sky. But He didn’t. He could have spoken to us in some mysterious way that is "better felt than told." But He didn’t. He could have impressed His will into man as He has with animals (instinct). But He didn’t. He has expressed His will to us through the Holy Scriptures. "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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). Are you aware that God is communicating with us through the Bible?

Continue reading » Associate Editorials: Communication and the Word of God

Associate Editorial: All in the Family

There is something especially beautiful to me to see an entire family worship God together.

When I was a young boy, I remember a man who worshipped with the church at home whose wife was a member of a denomination. Each week the family would leave home in separate cars, the man and wife going to different places of worship. Their daughter was pulled between the two.

My own father was not a Christian and he either remained in bed on Sunday morning while we all went to worship, or, as often was the case, expressed his displeasure at our going. The fact that he was not saved tore at our hearts and kept us from being a close family. There was a barrier there that was never removed and sin finally tore the family asunder.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: All in the Family

Associate Editorials: Bulletins and Church Typewriters

Editor’s Note: Brother Roberts is presently preparing for a move to the Tampa, Florida area, to work with the Forest Hills congregation.  As such, I have taken the liberty of reprinting an article Tom wrote for the West Side Weekly, a bulletin published by the West Side church in Fort Worth, TX in the time brother Roberts preached for that congregation.

The date of the article is November 20, 1977.  At that time, brother Roberts was dealing with the error of “Neo-Calvinism” in the Dallas, Fort Worth area.  Among other criticisms he and others received in their defense of truth was the charge that they were “meddling” in the affairs of other congregations.

While the illustration is dated, (typewriters instead of computers and the internet),  the argument used to refute this quibble is the same.  Truth does not violate autonomy! We commend his article to you. (Stan)

One hears a lot of objections these days to the use of bulletins by churches.  They are used, it is said, to meddle in other churches’ affairs and to ruin the reputation of preachers who deviate from orthodox positions.  I believe we need to consider these charges.

A bulletin, properly used, is simply a teaching medium of a congregation.  It is used in much the same way that a radio program is used:  to expand the teaching area that can be reached by the local church.  A bulletin can be as versatile as gospel preaching in that it can be used for local members or for those not Christians or for a combined audience of Christians and non-Christians.  In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with a church using a bulletin, nor a radio program, nor any other means to proclaim the truth.

Continue reading » Associate Editorials: Bulletins and Church Typewriters

Associate Editorial: "I’m On My Own"

It is not unusual these days to hear a teenager say to his parents, "I’m so tired of all these rules and regulations that you lay down for me that I’ll be glad when I’m on my own and can do as I please!" Quite often the "rules and regulations" to which they refer are those which are for their own good, however vexsome. While it is possible that parents can sometimes be unfair and arbitrary in fixing rules, most often parents have the good of their children in mind when they supply the regulations for a family.

Children are often too impatient to attempt to see the wisdom behind rules. They are not looking at events from the mature standpoint that only years of experience can bring; they are viewing events through the impatience and immaturity of youth. Such immaturity seldom seeks to find the wisdom behind a rule, particularly if it interferes with the immediate gratification of a desire. The guiding light of youth is expressed in the sentiment, "I want…" and "I want it now…" Consequently, when any restricting rule is enforced which inhibits or restricts, a young person who has no respect for experience or for the Biblical injunction of obedience will rebel. Whether the rule is a curfew on dating nights, attendance at worship services, homework, housework or personal grooming guidelines, compliance is grudging, if at all.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: "I’m On My Own"

Longsuffering and Merciful

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

 

With the current condition of the world (a reflection of what has always been so from the sin of Adam), it is amazing that God continues to allow this old world to stand. When we think about all that goes on around us (and we see but a fraction of the world’s evil), we are led to marvel that God does not say, "Enough! I will tolerate no more."

For a few thousand years now the history of man has been a history rejecting God. Beginning with Adam and continuing through every age of our history, each period of time is a story of dismal failure. True, there have been a few Abrahams and Noahs along the way, but the vast majority of mankind has "refused to have God in their knowledge" (Romans 1:28). As Paul looked at this same thought, he concluded (with the prophet) in Romans 3:10ff: "There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable." If this be so (and it is), why does God allow the world to continue? This is a question worth our consideration. And yet the very condition of wickedness that abounds on every hand but magnifies and declares the answer: it is the longsuffering and mercy of God that continues to grant lost men and women time to repent and turn to Him before Judgment.

Continue reading » Longsuffering and Merciful

Associate Editorial: False Teacher

    (Editor’s Note: Brother Roberts wrote this article in November of 1979. So, 23 years have passed. The article is still timely. It is interesting that some of the same arguments made by those who were advocating "Neo-Calvinism" in the late 1970’s are being used today by some brethren. As the actual individuals he addresses are not germaine to our present study, their names have been ommitted).

Some strange teaching is making the rounds these days about "false teachers." This teaching is based upon an incomplete and limited definition of "false" as it applies to those who teach error. Supposedly, one cannot label a teacher "false" unless the teacher "wilfully, knowingly, consciously and intentionally" teaches error. With this limited definition, a teacher that taught error without knowing it to be error could not be so labeled. This is not an accurate use of the term as we shall show. However, it is not strange nor unexpected to find some who are entering the "New Unity Movement" to be using this definition, particularly since they are eager to broaden the ties of fellowship with many who are embracing liberalism, institutionalism, denominationalism and other "ism’s."

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: False Teacher