“Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11, ESV).
Does that verse say what I think it says? Whatever it is we do or say, the purpose is to insure God gets the glory. “…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” is the text. That word “everything” is no slip of the tongue. The Holy Spirit knew what He was inspiring to be written and preserved throughout eternity. He said everything and He meant everything. We are to do, and God is to get the glory for His revealing to us what it is we are to do.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Why Do We Try to Make the Bible Say Stuff It Just Does Not Say?
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
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?”
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?
“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:30-33, ESV)
People stumble over the simplest of things. We stub our toes on the bed frame or the coffee table. We trip in the parking lot over a pebble. We sprain our ankles tripping over a small cavity in the back yard. People stumble.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: The Simplicity of the Gospel
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
Recently I was asked about some remarks I had made characterizing false teaching on divorce as promoting adultery. The querist had known some of the men who had done the false teaching and reported that they had never heard someone actually promote adultery. I am sure that such is true. It is not wise, nor is it sound to come out blatantly and promote sin. Preachers usually cannot hold a job if they go about promoting adultery. Alas, however, it is being done all the time.
“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'” (Matthew 19:3). The question, we all realize, is a simple one. It is the answer over which we have such a debate. “Is it lawful?” Even those Pharisees who asked the question with impure motives recognized that the law had to do with reason. What is the reason behind taking such radical action as the putting away or divorcing a mate? “‘For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,’ Says the LORD of hosts. ‘Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously'” (Malachi 2:16). God hates divorce. Enough said. Men are still asking the question, “Can we not do it anyway?” If we are going to do what God hates, we had better have a pretty good reason before we do it.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Is It Adultery? Or Isn’t It?
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
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
“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
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19). In this first Bible reference to “the church” Jesus promises to build it on the foundation of His deity. Having made a construction reference in regard to the church, he completes the figure by promising to turn over the keys to those who would live in that church. Interestingly enough, in verse 19, He does not call it a church again, but rather He uses a synonym for it and calls it “the kingdom of heaven.” They are one and the same.
The keys to be used in entering the kingdom, or church, would also involve inherently that which fits in the figure of a kingdom, that of rule, or authority. The possessor of the keys would have power to bind and loose. That is a function of law, to restrict behavior or to allow behavior — binding and loosing — restricting, allowing. Law permits or prohibits behavior. Such is the basic premise of law. Those that want to contend that the kingdom and church are not the same neither understand law, construction, or grammar, much less the scriptures. Why would the Lord promise to build His church and then promise the keys to something else? When builders complete their construction, they turn over the keys to those who will use that which is built. Jesus promised to build His church and then promised to turn over the keys to that church to those who would use it first, the apostles. Peter opened the door of the kingdom, church, to jews first at Pentecost and then to Gentiles in Caesarea when he preached to Cornelius and his household. The same thing happened on both occasions. The keys were used, the door of opportunity was opened, and penitent, faithful believers went through the door through baptism into Christ. Acts 2:47 affirms that those entering the door were added to the church.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Sin is Never Conservative
“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?
"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
The old saying goes that “it all depends on whose ox is being gored.” Old sayings usually have a very strong element of truth in them as do the tales of the old wives. (How many of us preacher types could get along without the old wives?)
The gored ox problem is the problem of tolerance. We love to hear sin condemned from the pulpit, as long as our ox is not being gored, meaning that our sin is not being condemned. The employment status of many preachers, including this author, has changed when we have gored the wrong ox. (Wrong as it relates to the possessor of an ox, not wrong as in the eternal Judge of the universe). I personally have never owned an ox, nor do I desire one. It might end up being gored, and I might have to change my position on sin, God forbid, since my current position is that revealed by the Psalmist, Psalm 119:104, “Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.” And Psalm 119:128, “Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.”
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: The Gored Ox
"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
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
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
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"
"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