Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           May 30, 2010                           NO. 22

 When Man Loses Respect For Bible Authority


            Generally, the religious world today is like a ship that has been shipwrecked because it lost its anchor of faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This ship, headed for eternal destruction, is filled with people "hav(ing) a form of godliness but denying its power" (2.Tim.3:5). The ship has been steered by "ungodly men, who turn the grace of our Lord into lewdness and deny the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 4). The anchor that one time held them fast to God has been lost in the sea of confusion and hopelessness, and the ship has been wrecked on the rocks of unbelief, despair, and doubt. It is now slowly sinking into oblivion, and the lives of the people onboard the ship are about to be drowned and lost for eternity. This is the picture the apostle Paul used to describe those who had lost their faith, "which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck." (1 Tim.1:19).


            The people described above have made the mistake of choosing to sail on a ship with a crew who see no need for someone with proper authority to tell them how to sail the ship safely to its destination while avoiding the pitfalls and dangers that lay ahead. The crew shows disdain and a lack of respect for the chart provided by the governing authority to guide them safely to the other shore, and at the same time warns them of the dangers that lay ahead for the ship. By failing to follow the guidebook and charts provided in it, shipwreck will be the inevitable result.


            Just talking to and/or reading after people who profess to be Christians today one soon comes to the conclusion that the majority of those claiming to be Christians have little religious conviction. Their faith is shipwrecked. I am convinced that one of the reasons for this is they have lost respect for the authority of God. This lack of respect has come about either because they are ignorant of what the word of God teaches, or don't care about following after divine authority. This includes members in the Lord's church.


            In an email dated 7/8/07, Dick Millwee, via Biblelist, sent an article entitled "Americans Shallow In Their Faith Scholars Say." The article illustrates clearly the things I wrote above. Dick was quoting a religious survey of the same title, published that day in the "Bakersfield Californian." The article appeared under the byline of Helen Gray of "McClatchy Newspapers." Here are some of the things stated in the article, showing the shallowness of the faith of many so called Christians.


            People today have little religious conviction according to recent statistics made by the Bama Group (a Christian research company). David Kinnaman, president of the Bama Group reached the conclusion that one reason America's views are so inconsistent is because they hold few convictions about their faith. Here are some things he stated in the article. "Most Americans do not have strong and clear beliefs," mainly because "they lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith." "Most Americans have one foot in the Biblical camp and one foot outside it." "They are committed, but to what? They are spiritually active, but to what end?"




            The survey showed this lack of conviction. Eighty three % claim Christianity but only forty nine % are committed to it. Kinnaman also observed, "There is increasing pressure on Christians to bend and shape their views into something that's popular, something that fits the pop culture's view of what spirituality ought to be." So why would 7 out of 10 people surveyed say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus but show so little evidence in their lives? One of the conclusions he reached was that the church had failed to teach the young people to think as Christians, so that many of them put Jesus on the shelf after they reach adulthood.


            Another person quoted in the article, D C Hart, a church historian, said "America is awash in faith but people are not clear in what their religion teaches." He observed that many people are shaky on the teachings of their faith because pastors (not the term I would use t.t.) often don't teach certain doctrines and biblical gospel on certain topics, especially those that pastors suspect might offend people. He then stated another reason for a shaky faith was the weakening of church discipline. Churches are not holding people accountable if they do not follow the tenets of their faith. The disciplinary aspects of the faith have been compromised for the sake of evangelism, in order to draw more people to come to church.


            David Roozen, religion and society professor at Hartford Seminary observed in the article that the reason why 83% claim Christianity but only 49% are committed to it, is the "trend toward a religion a la carte, people putting together their own religion." He said this leads to "increasing numbers of people who live their lives without serious attention to religious practice." He quotes a couple of people. One said, "I'm a Christian, but I don't think Christianity is the only path." Another said, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not going to die for it because there may be some truths in other faiths." Hart, quoted earlier, said, "They want to be able to pick and choose beliefs according to their needs and preferences." "That is the nature of having this marketplace of ideas and faiths." "The weakening of biblical and doctrinal knowledge among evangelicals is affecting their religious practices and their morale."


            When men lose respect for God's authority as revealed in His word, spiritual death and eternal destruction will be the outcome. When one reads such things as above, one should have no trouble seeing that there is a definite need for following God's authority and not our own.

---Thomas Thornhill

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The Difference Between Individuals & The Church


            In a recent discussion of church benevolence, the point was made that the church has a limited benevolent role (only to needy saints), while individual Christians can and should help all who are legitimately in need (Galatians 6:10). Someone offered this rebuttal:


            "Why maintain a division in the church over money when the money is God's before it is given on the 1st day of the week, and is still God's when it is not given? . . . If there is nothing that is not God's then His money is still feeding the poor either through the elders hand or through individuals. It is God's money, God's people, doing God's work."


            What we see here is a classic case of failing to recognize the difference between individual Christians and the church as a collective body. Notice these passages which make this clear distinction:


1. The individual is not the church: "For the body is not one member, but many." (1 Corinthians 12:14)


2. The individual is charged when the church is not: "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed." (1 Timothy 5:16)


3. The individual has responsibility that the church does not: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone ... if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more ... and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church ..." (Matthew 18:15-17)


4. The individual's money is distinct from the church's: "But a certain man named Ananias ...sold a possession, and kept back part of the price . . .and brought a certain part, and laid it, at the apostles' feet. But Peter said ... , Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?" (Acts 5:1-4)


(Editor’s Note: Brother Gwin’s excellent article reminded me of a visitor and his wife from Oklahoma which we had at services last Lord’s Day. After the Sunday night service, he said that he saw the church at Wise was listed in a church directory asNon-Institutional”. He asked me, “Exactly what does that mean?”. As I told him that the Lord’s church does not have Bible authority to take money from the treasury and send to a human organization to do the work that God has assigned the church, his follow-up question was, “You mean you would let a member of the community who lost his house in a fire go without giving them any help?”. To this I replied, “Absolutely not! I and every member of this congregation, who could, would do their best to help that individual or family but the money could  not be taken from what has been laid by in store on the first day of the week.” To this he said, ”Oh, but if the church did, it would be a great way to get the opportunity to teach them the gospel.” To which I replied, “The church is not authorized by Christ to assist anyone in benevolence except those who are needy saints. The end does not justify the means when we are acting without authority.”


            As our conversation continued, he stated that he and his wife would certainly not be coming to visit the services with us any more. He was clearly one of those who brother Gwin speaks of who doesn’t know the difference between the money which is laid by in store on the first day of the week and the money that is in my billfold in my back pocket. E.R.H.)


---Greg Gwin

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