There are two truths which are confirmed by a multitude of scriptures in God’s holy word. The first truth is that God’s children have always been hated by the religious world. Those who have claimed to be the most religious have always been the greatest enemies to true righteousness, and to the people of God. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Acts 14:22 says that we “… through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Many times the Lord and His apostles suffered by the hands of the Jews, the most religious group in Palestine. Continue reading » “Troubler Of Israel”
The passage begins memorably–“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”
There is a spiritual danger in being linked to unbelievers, whether they be avowed atheists, practical infidels who claim conviction but live wickedly, or those who believe in God, but reject the authoritative nature of his word. Even as the inspired writer condemns being yoked to unbelievers, he offers a remedy–“Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Continue reading » Come Out and Be Separate
Searching through a box of old bottles in an antique shop one day, my wife and I came upon some bottles which not only looked old, but were cast in different shapes and sizes with embossed messages and raised ribbing on the sides. Some of the bottles were hexagon; others were octagon, while others were flat or triangular.
The sales lady told us poison bottles by law were altered in appearance to safe guard the public in both England and in the United States from 1870 to 1930. These bottles were made with labels such as, “not to be taken internally” or simply “not to be taken.”
The poison bottles came in different colors such as green, cobalt, black or amber. When someone in the 1800’s went to a medicine cabinet and looked for a bottle of medicine by candle light they were apt to innocently pick up a poison bottle, sincerely mistaking it for a bottle of medicine.
Continue reading » Not To Be Taken
The word “false Teacher” is found only one time in the Bible at 2 Peter 2:1. The apostle Peter wrote, “But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers…” Unsuspecting brethren are often amazed that the subject of false teachers is taught from the pulpit with regularity when it is only found this one time in the Bible. The objective of this article will be instructive regarding the actual frequency of this subject in both the Old and New Testament. The very words “false teacher” suggest a standard of teaching that is violated. Let us consider the identity, work, effects and the faithful Christian’s responsibility toward false teachers. Preventative measures are ordained of God that we be not infected with their error (2 Timothy 2:17).
Identity of False Teachers
The Greek word representing “false teacher” is pseudodidaskaloi which is defined as “a false teacher, one who inculcates (to teach by frequent repetition; to instill…) false doctrines” (Moulton’s Greek English Lexicon pp. 441). One who teaches or instills doctrines that oppose divine revelation is a false teacher. There are few books in our Bibles that do not deal with this subject in some form or fashion. To illustrate this point let us connect some associated words. Peter refers to false teachers as those who “deny the master” (2 Peter 1). The apostle John identifies those who deny the master as liars and antichrist who “hath not God” (2 John 2:22-23). Those who “hath not God” are those who teach doctrines that are opposed to divine revelation (2 John 9ff). Paul warned the Galatians (Galatians 1:6ff) and Timothy (1 Timothy 6:3ff) of those who would teach a different doctrine. Due to the frequent attacks against God’s divine revelation Paul pleaded with Timothy to guard the purity of truth (1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:12-13). These verses are all interconnected and reveal the actual frequency that the subject is dealt with in our Bibles.
Continue reading » The False Teacher
Issues seem to be more numerous among brethren today than they were two or three decades ago. Denominationalism and Institutionalism were the two main areas of concern when I began to preach the Gospel. Over the last few years, Divorce and Remarriage, the Deity and Humanity of Jesus, AD 70 Doctrine, Days of Creation, plus where to draw the line of fellowship regarding these subjects have become matters of importance that need to be resolved. As a young man in the Gospel, I was not being forced to say where I stood on a big list of controversial issues, nor was I being ridiculed for not taking a stand among some who had already thought out their position before I knew a position should be taken. The religious landscape is different today. Internet access quickly disperses information to people all over the world. People share their thoughts instantaneously with others over social networking sites. Today, a new issue can arise with a click of a button. “Where do you stand on this or that issue?” soon follows.
Some, desiring to rise above the clouds of controversy in search for a less disagreeable walk with the Lord, try either to ignore issues or at least downplay their importance. They may deflect a controversial matter with, “I fear we have become too issue oriented.” Is this more spiritual than resolving the matter in the light of God’s Word?
Continue reading » Are We Too Issue Oriented?
Asa was the third king of Judah in the divided kingdom. The two kings before him, Rehoboam and Abijah, exemplified the way of error. The inspired writer summed up the reign of Rehoboarn by saying, "He did that which was evil, because he set not his heart to seek Jehovah" (2 Chron. 12:14). Of the life of Abijah, the Bible says that he walked in "the sins of his father" and "his heart was not perfect with Jehovah" (1 Kgs. 15:3). Yet, Asa did not follow the path of apostasy, but "did that which was good and right in the eyes of Jehovah his God: for he took away the foreign altars, and the high places, and brake down the pillars, and hewed down the Asherim, and commanded Judah to seek Jehovah… and to do the law and the commandments" (2 Chron. 14:2-4).
Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": Whether Small or Great
The expressions “non-institutional” and “conservative” are commonly used by brethren today to describe an assembly of brethren who do not support the sponsoring church or human institutions, and who are not liberal-minded in their spiritual thought. But we need to be aware that these terms are also now being used among a great many brethren to describe congregations where brethren gladly advocate and practice the false teachings of “unity in diversity”, and where the endorsement and fellowship of brethren who teach and/or practice soul destructive error is a common occurrence.
So, it had better become obvious to faithful brethren that “soundness” in teaching and practice involves a great deal more than simply describing an assembly of brethren as being non-institutional or conservative. I am confident that we could all profit from a full examination of what constitutes the acceptance and practice of “sound doctrine” among our brethren, but for our purposes in this particular article we must recognize that a sound and faithful group of brethren will be those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, John 8:31-32, and who will not receive anyone who does not bring this teaching, 2 John 9-11. These are brethren who have fellowship with God and one another because they walk in the light, 1 John 1:5-7, and they are very concerned and careful that they have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, Ephesians 5: 6-14.
Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: In a Sound Church, Yet Without a Clue
"But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire" (Deuteronomy 7:5). This is what the Lord commanded of Israel as they were about to enter the promised land. All substance and shadow of idolatry was to be found and annihilated. If it was done, blessings would follow. If not done, Israel would be cursed. We know from reading the history of Israel, they failed to do their duty, were afflicted by their enemies, as well as internal trouble, and ended up in captivity.
The Lord gives Christians the command to seek and destroy as well.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in god for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
This is a command to attack error. The Spirit also commands, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). There is to be no sharing in evil, but that is not all. There is no position of neutrality, nor mere avoidance of evil. Rather, it must be confronted and exposed.
Continue reading » Scripture Studies: Seek and Destroy
“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
The special theme section of our last issue of Watchman, (June, 2003), was entitled “Let None Deal Treacherously”: An Examination of God’s law (and the error of men) on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage. The issue consisted of nine articles on the subject, establishing what I believe to be the truth, and dealing with some (though not all) of the errors which men have advocated on the subject in recent years. All of the articles were written by me.
The series initially was printed in the local bulletin I edit for the West Side congregation here in Fort Worth. Because of the format of the bulletin, the articles were not long, and it was not my intention for them to be particularly “in-depth.” I was aiming for a general, concise discussion of the issue, and judging from the generous feedback I received concerning the material, some at least were satisfied with the effort.
Continue reading » Editorial: Revisiting “Let None Deal Treacherously”
(Author’s Note: As you may recall, in the April 2003 issue of Watchman Magazine, an article entitled, “Pat Robertson’s Surgery,” appeared. The article asked why Pat Robertson, a noted Pentecostal, had not received miraculous divine healing, rather than undergo surgery. An anonymous objector has responded. Since his criticisms are fairly common, perhaps a reply might be helpful – LRH).
“dear sir maybe you should read Ps105:15. and Matthew 7:1-2 as a matter of fact read the chapter.
what this man is or is not is Gods buisness. Rather than tear down a bretheren perhaps you should pray for Pat Robertson’s recovery. I know I will be.”
It is good to have a response, even an anonymous one, for no Pentecostal faith healer attempted to answer the questions posed by the article, “Pat Robertson’s Surgery.” Like Baal’s silence in 1 Kings 18, their muteness loudly proclaims their spiritual impotence. As the article said, if our Pentecostal friends had the powers they claim the Holy Spirit gives them, Pat Robertson would not have had surgery. He would have been miraculously healed. Continue reading » Anonymous Prays for Pat Robertson
Many are aware of the debate over preemptive action in relation to Iraq. The president made the case for it and won many supporters. Still some protested and tried to stop any real action. Now, on this side of the war, level-headed people can see the president was and is right. Acting before a dangerous enemy can do harm is the intelligent way to go.
A similar debate over preemptive action exists among brethren. One idea is that whatever goes on elsewhere is none of our concern. It matters not what is happening on the west coast or east coast, in Florida or Kentucky, or even across town. Just mind the local work and leave everything else alone. (Of course, in giving this advice they violate their own precept by telling others what to do). The other idea is that what happens elsewhere will eventually affect the local brethren in one way or another. Therefore, addressing it is the wise course of action. The former is wrong, the latter right.
Continue reading » Scripture Studies – Preemptive Action
When error is taught religiously, history shows people to be divided into one of three groups. First, there are those who advocate the error. Second, there are those who combat the error. And, finally, there are those who seek to minimize the differences, thus compromising with the error. Issues in the past 150 years have shown this to be true with the battles over the instrument in worship, and with the institutional issues that troubled brethren in the middle of the last century.
The same circumstance can be seen in the division of brethren over what the Bible teaches concerning marriage and divorce. There are the false teachers who advocate the error, the faithful brethren who combat the error, and a sizable number of brethren who seek to maintain fellowship with those who teach the error. As is commonly the case, the compromisers have turned to the 14th chapter of Romans, abusing that text in an attempt to justify their compromise with the false teacher.
Continue reading » Fellowship and Controversy
Most are aware that a controversy exists among Christians today regarding what the Bible teaches about fellowship. Included in the differences expressed by brethren is a disagreement on the bounds of Christian unity based on differing understandings of Romans, chapter 14. Some believe the instruction of the chapter, "Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things" (vs. 1), to be inclusive of some sinful practices and some doctrinal error. Others, rightfully I believe, limit the context of the admonition to matters of liberty.
Another area of disagreement is found regarding the true designation of a false teacher. Some limit the term to those who are dishonest in heart. They take the description of the false teacher in 2 Peter 2, which describes false teachers as being willful, and deceitful, as excluding a brother who teaches error, but who himself is sincere and honest. Others, rightfully I believe, identify the false teacher by his doctrine, and believe God desires us to judge his works rather than his heart (cf. Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1).
Continue reading » Dealing With Doctrinal Error
Presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, is not the only one who recently had surgery to remove a cancerous prostate gland. Pat Robertson, he of the 700 Club, a socio-politico, religious television news program, had prostate surgery on February 22.
Mr. Robertson often has endorsed modern day miracle claims and has featured faith healers on his television program. One wonders why this man, who believes in the miraculous, divine healing power of the Holy Spirit today, needed to have surgery for his ailment. Seems to me that this would have been the perfect time for one of his miracle working preacher friends to have laid their hands on him and healed him. Since he surely had sufficient faith to be healed, why did he not call one of the prominent healers of this generation (Oral Roberts, for example), and ask them to rid him of his malady?
Continue reading » Pat Robertson’s Surgery
Larry, do you have any material or thoughts when one says that the 4 gospels are all we need, and that Paul was corrupt and did not preach what Jesus said?
First, though I understand what you mean, and often use the term myself, it is actually one gospel with four different records of it.
Second, if the four gospel accounts are all we need:
- Why did the Lord say that he that heareth you heareth me (Lk. 10:16)? More was to come to the apostles, for they could not grasp it all then (Jn. 16:12, 13). But why speak of that which would be revealed if the gospel accounts are all we need?
- Why did Jesus speak of some who would believe on him through their (the apostles’) word (Jn. 17:20)? Why speak of “their word,” which would be given later to them, if the gospel accounts are all we need (Jn. 16:7-14)?
- Why did Jesus speak of the apostles doing greater works than he had done (Jn. 14:12)? Since they did not do them during the gospel accounts, when did they do them and why, if the gospel accounts are all we need?
- Why did Jesus, in the gospel accounts, speak of the Holy Spirit convicting the world of sin, if they (the gospel accounts) alone are sufficient (Cf. Jn.7:37-39; 16:8; Acts 1:8; 2:4, 36-41)?
- Why did Jesus speak of the gospel being “preached in the whole world” (to Jew and Gentile) if the gospel accounts are all we need (Matt. 26:13–“whole world”)? This preaching of the gospel was not done prior to the great commission of Matthew 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15, 16; Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:8; 2:4). This preaching to the “whole world” was after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:30-36). So, why did Jesus refer to it, IF the gospel accounts alone are sufficient?
- If Paul was corrupt and “did not preach what Jesus said,” so was the gospel which Peter preached, for they both spoke the same thing (dispensationalist doctrine to the contrary notwithstanding).
(A) In Galatians 1:23, Paul said he now preached the gospel which he once opposed. What gospel did he once oppose (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1, 2)? He once opposed the gospel Peter preached, and that gospel was that of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 4:2, 33; 14:3). If Paul’s gospel “was corrupt,” so was Peter’s.
(B) in 1 Corinthians 15:11, Paul said, “Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” As context clearly shows, “they” included Peter and the other apostles (15:5-11). It made no difference whether one heard Paul or Peter, true gospel faith and salvation resulted, no matter which one they heard. If Paul’s gospel was corrupt, so was Peter’s.
(C) Paul worked the signs of an apostle (2 Cor. 12:12). The things he wrote were “the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37; Eph. 3:5). These were things delivered to the “holy apostles and prophets” (Cf. Eph. 3:3-5, 8-11; 2 Pet. 3:1, 2). Peter could do more than work “the signs of an apostle,” so if Paul’s teaching is “corrupt,” so is Peter’s.
- Where do we learn of local church organization, of elders and deacons? Certainly not in “the 4 gospels”!
- Where do we read of a church receiving funds to do its work? Again, not in “the 4 gospels”!
- Where do we see that the Lord’s supper is to be eaten “upon the first day of the week”? Do any of “the 4 gospels” speak of Christians partaking of it on that day?
- Where do we learn that Holy Spirit baptism, tongues speaking, and spiritual gifts have ceased? The gospel record of Mark ends with language which, without other testimony, particularly that given by Paul, sounds as though such miraculous works continue in perpetuity. How do we know they have ceased and that men are not being so led today without the testimony of Paul? (If one argues that Paul’s denial that such gifts continue is part of his corruption, it follows that if a person cannot work miracles and perform the signs, he is an unbeliever, according to the gospel records (Mk. 16:17-20). Will those who say “that the 4 gospels are all we need” accept that consequence?)
Third, those who make the charge that Paul “did not preach what Jesus said” need to offer proof of their charge. He did speak Jesus’ words and exhorted disciples to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:35). Further he said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). He said that in Christ were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3-8) These are strange words coming from a man who allegedly did not “preach what Jesus said.” So, what is there about Paul’s gospel that is deficient or corrupt? We need specifics, not general accusations.
(A) If Paul’s word was “corrupt” why did Peter refer to it with approval (2 Pet. 3:16)?
(B) If Paul’s word was corrupt, why did Peter, James, and John extend to him the right hand of fellowship (Gal. 2:7-9; Cf. Acts 15:12)? If Paul was corrupt, their acceptance of him would have made them partakers of his evil deeds and doctrines (2 John 9-11; Cf. 1 Jn. 4:1, 6; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-5; 5:7).
A reader asks for clarification:
"The Bible speaks of two baptisms – baptism with water and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Both are referred to on several different occasions, so both are essential (a few examples include Matt. 3:11, John 1:3, John 3:4, Acts 10:34-38).
"Ephesians 4:5, however, speaks of there being one baptism. Since the Bible actually mentions two of them, then this must mean that one of the baptisms takes precedence over the other. …which baptism is referred to here? Explain what it means to have [either] one superior to the other."
Baptisms Of The Bible
Actually, the Bible speaks of more than "two baptisms." It speaks of a baptism of suffering (Mk. 10:38, 39; Lk. 12:50), "the baptism of John" (Matt. 21:25), a baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11), and a baptism "unto Moses" (1 Cor. 10:2), as well as the aforementioned baptisms of water and the Holy Spirit.
Continue reading » There Is … One Baptism
(Editor’s Note: The following series of sermon outlines are complementary to the discussion regarding the proper “Tone” in preaching).
I. Introduction. Very soon after the establishment of the church of Jesus Christ, there were problems with false doctrine. Probably the first big problem the church experienced was that of the Judaizers: those who taught that all Christians had to obey the Law of Moses. Soon thereafter, the Gnostics became a problem; they were a group that taught that Jesus did not come in the flesh, and that they had a special, secret understanding of the scriptures that the unenlightened could not understand. Ever since then, there have been heresies, false doctrines, and problems in Christ’s church. Today is no different.
Continue reading » Problems in the Lord’s Church