Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                          May 11, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 10



Several years ago Newsweek had an article on homosexual marriage with the following quote from one proponent of redefining marriage to include the unions of homosexual couples: “The religious argument for gay marriage is not generally made with reference to particular texts, but with the general conviction that the Bible is bent toward inclusiveness.”

We need to see that statement for what it really is. In attempting to defend a life the Bible describes with the words vile, against nature, shameful, error, and the result of a debased mind (Romans 1:26-28), a lie has been told by the use of words that sound reasonable and even Biblical.

Of course, this defense of “gay marriage” will seem appealing  to many because the New Testament is in fact a message of inclusiveness. Over and over again the inspired writers tell us that God has broken down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile and desires that the two be as one in the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-18). In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, for all who put their faith in Jesus Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29). In Colossians 3:9-11 the promise of the blessings in Christ is extended to the barbarian and Scythian, which is to say that Christ’s church is inclusive of people of all countries, races, ethnicities, etc.

The blessings of the New Testament also include every socio-economic group, for in Christ there is no distinction made between slave and free (Galatians 3:28), and first century churches often included both slaves and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9).

Further, the inclusiveness of the New Testament reaches both male and female (Gal. 3:26-29). While certain roles are off-limits to women (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35), and for that matter to unmarried men (1 Timothy 3:2), the Bible does not exclude women from the blessings of salvation, and it teaches that every member plays an important role in the building up of the body (Ephesians 4:16).

We might also note that among the writers of the New Testament there were two men described as “uneducated and untrained” (Acts 4:13) and one who was a physician (Colossians 4:14). The inclusiveness of Scripture reaches all educational levels.

And the inclusiveness of the Bible doesn’t stop with the breaking down of ethnic, gender, socio-economic, or educational distinctions, but reaches out to include the vilest of sinners. In 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Paul thanked Christ for the grace extended to him, the vilest of sinners, and added that his salvation was intended to be a pattern to provide hope for other sinners who would put their faith in Jesus Christ. The promise of remission of sins in Acts 2:38 was made to men so vile as to have been guilty of killing the Christ. Sinners who come to Jesus in penitent faith and allow themselves to be baptized in Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 4) are assured that God’s grace is broad enough to encompass them.

So it is true that the “Bible is bent toward inclusiveness,” but does that legitimize homosexual unions? Hear the words of the one who said his conversion was proof God would accept sinners:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10

While the next verse makes it clear that every one of these is forgivable, verse 9, 10 tells us that these sinners must turn from their sin or they will be excluded from God’s eternal kingdom. God is as willing to forgive the homosexual as He is the thief and the drunkard, but just as the thief must steal no more and the drunkard must cease his drinking, the homosexual must stop his sins against nature. The Bible is both inclusive and exclusive when it comes to homosexuality: it excludes from salvation those who continue to practice the sin, yet the church our Lord loved and gave Himself for includes those who formerly practiced the sin of homosexuality but have ceased their sin and been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

We need to appreciate the areas of inclusiveness in the New Testament and be just as inclusive in our dealings with others, but let’s not allow ourselves to overlook the fact that its inclusiveness comes with some requirements. The One who came to this earth to open the way of salvation to all insisted that He was the exclusive approach to the Father (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12). He also warned that not every person calling Him Lord would be included in those receiving the blessing of eternal life (Matthew 7:21-23). Most who will read this article knew before they began to read that the Bible did not include homosexual marriages in its lists of approved behaviors, but do we realize we could end up equally excluded from the blessings of Christ because of covetousness or reviling or a host of other sins? Are we really committed to doing the will of God, a will that involves much more than the avoidance of homosexuality?

Let’s all honestly assess our own situation to determine if God’s conditional salvation includes or excludes us.

Unless noted, all quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

—John Gibson

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"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6).

God wants us to understand there is "one body" and He has revealed that "body" to us through His word. Despite what we think this "body" refers to, God's word clearly reveals what it is. "And hath put all things under his (Christ, ERH) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1:21,22). "And he (Christ, ERH) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18).

What is "the body"? The Scriptures reveal that it is "the church". There is "one body" thus there is "one church", for the inspired Scriptures teach that it is.

However, people today do not speak in terms of "the church" but instead they ask, "WHICH church are you a member of?" Some say they believe all churches are acceptable but, while they say it, they don't really believe it. For example, at a local nursing home, Tim Shepherd and I were trying to make arrangements for one of the residents to attend services with us. The supervisor of the home had permitted him to attend a denomination but when we began making arrangements for an ambulance to transport him to and from services at Wise, the supervisor said, "It doesn't matter where you go to church for they all are OK." She made this statement and yet refused him to attend services with us. If it really didn't matter, why didn't she allow him to go with us since we had already made arrangements? Even though she said all churches are OK, she really didn’t believe it because here was her opportunity to practice what she preached.

Just recently I was talking to one of my relatives who maintained that all churches (religions) were OK and before our conversation ended, she was expressing concern for her brother being a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. If all churches are OK, the Jehovah's Witnesses are just as right as all the others because they have their doctrines and practices that are peculiar to them like all churches do. Again, I say that I’ve yet to meet the first person who says that all churches are OK who really believes what they say.

The Scriptures do not teach nor has God ever said that all churches and religions are OK. If all religions and churches are OK where are the teachers of FALSE doctrine and where are the VAIN worshipers? "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:1,2) Where are the false teachers and where are the many who are following them if all churches are OK? "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9) Are there any churches in existence that teach the commandments of men for their doctrines? When you have one church teaching that baptism has nothing to do with saving and another church teaching people to be baptized for the remission of sins, which one is teaching the commandment of God and which is teaching a commandment of men? Both can't be teaching the commandment of God because they contradict each other and teach the exact opposite of one another. Any church that teaches the commandment of men causes their worship to be rendered vain. Is it alright if you are a member of a church that renders vain worship? Then it does make a difference, doesn’t it?

We must go to the inspired Scriptures for therein we find authorized what God would have us to teach and practice. If it's not in the Scriptures it cannot be a commandment of God but rather a commandment of men. If it matters whether our worship is acceptable to God or vain, it matters which church we are a member of. 

—E.R. Hall, Jr.

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

--- E.R. Hall, Jr.





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