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?
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).
Authors: Bobby Holmes and Mark Roberts
Continue reading » Doctrine-Gospel Distinction
Is it possible to have unity in doctrinal matters? It is increasingly proclaimed that we cannot all believe the same things and practice the same things in doctrine. Thus, the need for “unity in diversity.” What used to be a voice from ultra-liberalism has now become a common theme among more conservative brethren. “We cannot have unity in doctrine; the only unity we can have is unity in Christ.”
Years ago, there was a small core of radical brethren who tried to make a distinction between “gospel” and “doctrine.” Their “gospel” was defined to be 7 core facts about Jesus: birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, coronation. We were told that so long as one believed in the 7 facts about the deity of Jesus, salvation was assured. “Doctrinal” matters were not salvation matters. Thus, so long as one accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, it did not matter if one accepted premillennialism, instrumental music, the Lord’s supper on days other than the Lord’s day, etc. Doctrine, we were told (any doctrine), was not a salvation matter. We were urged to “accept into fellowship every believer in Christ, regardless of doctrinal beliefs.” If a belief was not a “salvation matter,” we were told, we should not make it a test of fellowship. One man taught that every believer in Christ was a “child of God in prospect and a brother in deed” (Carl Ketcherside). He finally gave up the “doctrinal” teaching on baptism and accepted as his brothers those who rejected baptism for the remission of sins.
Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Doctrinal Unity
One writer has referred to the instrument of Jesus’ death as “The Polished Mahogany Cross” (Bill Love, The Core Gospel, p. vii). He intended by this to emphasize that our generation does not see the cross as an instrument of torture as did the first century where it was the common instrument of Roman punishment for criminals. Consequently, that writer and others have concluded that our generation has failed to place the cross in its proper place in God’s grace, ignoring or unwittingly omitting the cross as an expression of God’s grace and the “drawing power” (John 12:32) of God unto salvation. In its place, we are accused, we have put an emphasis on doctrine, splitting the Bible into bits and pieces, placing theology and its study on a higher plane than that of the “core gospel.” The accusation is untrue and unfounded.
This “core gospel” has been the subject of much discussion. A British theologian of the Church of England by the name of C. H. Dodd (1930’s) has written extensively on the theory (an avowed modernist, he denied the inspiration of the Bible). His views have been carried into the mainstream of Protestant religious thought and, to one extent or another, into the thinking of some brethren. Carl Ketcherside, for one, accepted his definition of a “core gospel” and changed his religious views to accommodate it. Ketcherside was considered a maverick in his early preaching and writing days but lived long enough to see his views gain popularity. In Love’s book, this “core gospel” achieves a status of scholarship (in some circles). Continue reading » Solid Food: What Does It Mean to “Preach the Cross”?
“Accustom your children constantly to this; if a thing happened at one window and they, when relating it, say that it happened at another, do not let it pass, but instantly check them; you do not know where deviation from truth will end.”
So wrote Samuel Johnson in 1778 concerning the absolute necessity of telling the unvarnished truth. The writer is concerned in this present article with examining the subject of relating the truth of God’s word, that is, teaching pure doctrine to the hearer. If we permit ourselves or an esteemed fellow traveler the right to a certain amount of unchastised impurity of doctrine, we invite a flood of apostasy to deluge us, for once the door of error has been made ajar, it becomes impossible to bar it again. Continue reading » Be An Example … In Purity: Purity in Doctrine
Which is greater, moral purity or doctrinal truth? Some say “purity” in life is more important, while others say “truth” in doctrine is the more excellent way. Why do we have to make a choice? Does the word of God encourage us to choose one above the other? One may be right on every point of doctrine, but go to hell for an impure life (1 Cor. 9:27; Rev. 2:2-5). One may live a “good, moral life” and be lost in doctrinal error (Jas. 5:19, 20; 2 Jn. 9).
How, though, may we have moral purity without doctrinal truth? Someone must teach the truth about moral purity in order to establish it in the lives of Christians. The context of the statement, “Ye have not so learned Christ,” shows that pure, godly living is a taught and learned behavior (Eph. 4:17-5:18). Indeed, it is the grace of God which teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” (Titus 2:11-14). Doctrinal truth, the teaching of the word of God, is essential to righteous living. “By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer” (Psa. 17:4). The word from God’s lips is imparted by teaching, by doctrinal “instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Continue reading » Purity and Doctrine