Know Your Bible

VOL. 15                                                                                               August 27, 2017                                                                                                              NO. 24



"A man said to me, 'Brother, I can't take the doctrine you preach that one must be baptized to be saved, because it damns my father and mother who were not baptized.'

"Well, let us see. Do you think one must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved? 'Oh, yes,’ he answers. Very well, I will just change my subject from baptism to faith. A Jew comes around and says, 'Mr. Preacher, I can't accept the doctrine you preach, that faith in Jesus is necessary to salvation, because my father and mother died without believing in Christ.'             

"The Jew thinks as much of his father as you do of yours. By the same argument with which you eliminate baptism, because perchance it damns some of your ancestors, he also eliminates faith in Christ.  Then I preach that the knowledge of God is necessary to salvation and a Chinese comes around, and says, 'I can't take the doctrine you preach, because it damns my poor father and mother, who died without the knowledge of God' -- and there you see the whole plan of salvation is nullified by contingencies.

Friends, I suggest that we leave the matter of clemency to the judge (a judge only has the power of clemency) and let us observe the law. I have no authority to preach clemency -- I must preach what God commands men to do to be saved -- and I know what the law says.

—Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

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One of our readers asked for help in responding to a brother who is defending church kitchens on this basis: “How do we know the Jerusalem church didn’t have one to use in the daily serving of food to its widows (Acts 6:1-6)?”

First, the question is not, "How do we know they didn't have a kitchen?" It is, "How do we know they did?" We can only follow the apostolic pattern (Philippians 3:17) by observing what the Bible says the early Christians did. Guessing about things they might have done, but things about which the Bible says nothing, opens the door to endless innovations.

Second, it is not at all likely that the Jerusalem church even had a building at this point in its existence, much less a kitchen! There was so much poverty in the group that many were forced to sell land or houses just to meet the physical needs of their brethren (Acts 4:34-35). Given that, and the fact that their number quickly swelled into the thousands (Acts 2:41; 4:4), where would they have gotten the funds to build a meetinghouse sufficient for so many? Luke (in Acts 2:46) points to the temple courts as their meeting place.

Third, the only justification for a local church having any facility is that it is a means of carrying out the work God has assigned the church (collectively). A building is authorized because we are commanded to assemble for worship (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 20:7; etc.). Classrooms for edification/instruction in God's word might be included (Ephesians 4:11-12; etc.).

If one is going to argue in favor of a gym, they must show that recreation is a local church function. If one is going to argue in favor of a kitchen and eating hall, they must show that eating is a church function. Facilities for doing unauthorized things are themselves unauthorized. If the New Testament contained any commands or examples that made dinners and recreation the church's work, brethren would not resort to arguments such as the one we are considering. Not only are there no positive statements to support such things, Paul's prohibitions in 1 Corinthians 11 explicitly place eating in the realm of the home, not the local church. "What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? … If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home" (vss. 22, 34).

Fourth, who's kidding whom? What church has so many members lacking food and cooking capability that a kitchen in the meetinghouse is legitimately the most practical way to provide for them? And more to the point, in what congregation is preparing meals for indigent members the exclusive, or even the primary, use of such facilities? It is dishonest to justify building a facility for one purpose, then switching (perhaps all the while planning) to use it for others. By such tactics we might console ourselves, but God is not deceived.

—Frank Himmel

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——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————REGRETS AT DEATH 

I have never heard and I never expect to hear of one who, when about to die:     

-Regrets that he became a Christian.

-Regrets that he tried earnestly to live as a Christian.

-Regrets that he gave so much time to prayer and study of the Bible.

-Regrets that he gave a generous portion of his money to do the Lord’s work. 

-Regrets that he assembled conscientiously and regularly with the brethren for worship, exhortation and edification.

But I have heard of many and expect to hear of more who, when about to die:

-Regretted not becoming a child of the King.

-Regretted not trying earnestly to live as a Christian.

-Regretted that they had not given much time to prayer and study of the Bible.

-Regretted they had not given a generous portion of their money to do the Lord’s work.

-Regretted they had not tried to reach others around them who were lost in sin.

-Regretted they had not assembled conscientiously and regularly with their brethren for worship, exhortation and edification.

What about you? When you are facing death, as each of us will one day, will you have any regrets? Do not wait until it is too late to set your priorities straight. What is important is what you can take with you into eternity. Anything else has to be of much less value.

—Bill Crews

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Thumb through the catalog of almost any religious publisher or walk down the aisle of the Christian Booksellers Association convention and you will quickly discover what's hot and what's not: what's hot is the counsel of psychologists about anxiety and addiction, depression and dependency, self-esteem and sexuality, parenting and personality disorders; what's not is the call of Jesus to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him in the way of servanthood.  Our obsession with self has led us astray into the temple of idols.

—Donald McCullough

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