Arhive pe etichete: Oklahoma

HOW MANY PATTERNS DO YOU NEED?

HOW MANY PATTERNS DO YOU NEED?

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

            As a boy I remember my mother making her own dresses. In order to turn out the product she desired she followed a pattern, making sure to cut the material according to the proper shapes as dictated by the one pattern. She did not need nor make use of more than one pattern for each garment. One pattern was enough. It enabled her to reproduce the dress pictured on the pattern envelope.

We have a pattern in the New Testament showing how new churches were gathered and by whom and by what authority. We have no pattern in the New Testament of any group of scripturally baptized persons forming themselves into a church apart from an ordained man sent out by a previously existing scriptural church. There are some churches about which we know nothing, but the argument from silence proves nothing. All competent students of the Word are agreed: silence proves nothing! Those who do not insist on following this pattern claim that we just do not have sufficient patterns in the Bible. But, I ask, how many patterns did my mother need to make a garment? Only one was necessary to turn out what she wanted. And this preacher insists that the one pattern found in Acts 13:1-4 is a clear and sufficient revelation from God. Surely one is enough: we need no other!

Acts 13:1-4 is very instructive. It says: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.   As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost…”

Notice these six things: (1) All the persons involved here were “in the church that was at Antioch.” No freelancers here! (2) In the midst of their service (preaching?) and fasting (probably here in connection with prayer) the Holy Spirit made His will known regarding two of them. (3) It is stated that the Holy Spirit had called them (past tense) to this work. This explains the willingness of these men to go forth. (4) The congregation fasted, prayed and as a public demonstration of giving these two church authority they laid their hands on them. (5) Then the church sent them away. Implied in that statement is that the church gave unto them money and other things they might need for their travels. (6) So it is stated that they were “sent forth by the Holy Ghost” – but not without the involvement of the congregation. Church involvement was a part of being sent forth by the Holy Spirit! Those who are familiar with the New Testament know that these men went forth making disciples, marking them by baptism, and maturing them by teaching them – they carried out the commission Christ left to His church. Being members of that congregation and having been authorized by her, they were laboring on behalf of that church to fulfill the commission given to Christ’s churches. It is also significant and stated in other places in the Book of Acts that Paul always returned to his home-church after each of his evangelistic/baptizing/teaching tours.

Today we are told by some Brethren that this pattern is insufficient and has no bearing on how mission work is to be done or how new churches are to be started started. Those who give to a group of scripturally baptized folk the authority to organize themselves into a church do so without any biblical basis. There is no statement in the Bible saying that baptized folk have such authority. Nor is there any example in the New Testament of a group of scripturally baptized folk who are stated to have independently formed themselves into a scriptural church. In fact, is there any statement in the New Testament giving scripturally baptized folk any authority other than to serve Christ in one of His churches? Theirs is a theory based on silence which proves nothing whatsoever. Does silence prove that Cain killed his brother with a stone? We are only told that “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him,” (Genesis 4:8). We may surmise about a great many things in the Bible because of that Book’s silence, but we dare not presume to challenge clear statements in the Bible with our suppositions. Whatever spontaneous-combustion-theorists may say about us, at least we do have and do follow a pattern found in the Word of God!

Those who espouse this “spontaneous combustion theory” – those who claim that scripturally baptized folk have authority to start a church apart from an ordained man sent by a previously existing church – those people, to my knowledge, refuse to address the question as to whether or not members may dismiss themselves from membership in a scriptural church for whatever reason. And this preacher has found none who address the question as to whether or not excluded members of a scriptural church may form themselves together and by their own independent act constitute themselves into a church. It would seem that they disregard the authority of sister congregations to discipline their members by giving them the authority as excluded members to organize themselves into a new church. Do such men even believe in church discipline?

By their pattern-less doctrine – that is, that scripturally baptized persons, even excluded ones, may constitute themselves into a church – they seem to be saying that at least some of the Campbellite churches are scriptural.  After all, the first Campbellite churches were self-constituted congregations made up of scripturally baptized Baptists who had been excluded from various Baptist congregations. Selah!

LENT, EASTER AND HOT CROSS BUNS Curtis Pugh Poteau, Oklahoma

LENT, EASTER AND HOT CROSS BUNS

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

Roman Catholics, Protestants and even some modern Baptists are all involved in celebrating or observing Lent and Easter. That the fast of Lent is not only unknown in the Bible, but was not a practice of the apostles is admitted in the Catholic Encyclopedia. It says, “We may then fairly conclude that Irenaus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.” That being the case there is nothing in the Bible that tells or encourages you to observe any of the pagan observances of Lent and Easter. Not only is there no encouragement for you to do these things, to do so is to observe both hypocritical and pagan practices. There are, actually, words from the Lord Jesus against Ash Wednesday practices. It is common practice to have ashes put on the forehead on Ash Wednesday as a sign of fasting. The Lord said, “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” Wearing ashes on one’s forehead is most certainly appearing unto men to fast. It is a pagan sign of fasting – with no Bible basis. The Lord said, “Wash thy face!”

Did you know that in the early days of European settlement in North America most people did not celebrate either Lent or Easter? Why? Because everyone knew that Easter (named for the pagan goddess “Ishtar”) was pagan. Easter is nothing more than a pagan, fertility cult observance. (The King James translators incorporated the pagan word “Easter” one time in their work, but the Greek word there is actually the word for “passover” – a God-given Jewish observance, not a pagan one.) That Easter and all that goes with it is pagan is why eggs and bunnies are incorporated into its observance: they are fertility symbols. Consider what this author wrote for children: “When the Puritans came to North America, they regarded the celebration of Easter—and the celebration of Christmas—with suspicion. They knew that pagans had celebrated the return of spring long before [professing Roman Catholic] Christians celebrated Easter… for the first two hundred years of European life in North America, only a few states, mostly in the South, paid much attention to Easter.” (Easter Parade: Welcome Sweet Spring Time!, by Steve Englehart, p. 4 [brackets added]) “Easter first became an American tradition in the 1870s,” (ibid. p. 5).

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits what Baptists have always said: neither the Bible command nor did the apostles ever celebrate, observe or instruct anyone to celebrate “Easter” each year. Instead the Baptists have always maintained that we gather on the First Day because that was the day Christ was found to be resurrected: so we have a weekly celebration. The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Further, there seems much to suggest that the Church in the Apostolic Age designed to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ, not by an annual, but by a weekly celebration…” That is what healthy Baptists have been doing ever since the days of the apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that it was not until the fourth century that some began to observe the forty day fast we know today as Lent.

If you want to know the truth about Lent, Easter and hot cross buns, do a little research. Find out about Nimrod (great-great-grandson of Noah) and Semiramis. Find out about Tammuz, the supposedly virgin-born son of Semiramis (who was also called Ashteroth or Ishtar – “Easter”). Find out about the Babylonian mystery religion – the fertility cult – established back then. The Old Testament condemned this idolatrous worship. Here is what was revealed to the prophet, Ezekiel: “He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose,” (Ezekiel 8:13-17). This “weeping for Tammuz” is the source of the fast of Lent incorporated by the Catholics to please their “pagan” converts.

Semiramis was called “the queen of heaven” and is mentioned twice in connection with the “hot cross buns” baked as a part of her worship. Jeremiah 7:17-18 says, “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” Again in Jeremiah 44:16-17 the Jewish women blatantly tell God’s man that they are going to do as they please. There it is written: “As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.”

We are confident that if you will do independent investigation you will come to the conclusion that Lent, and Easter (as well as hot cross buns) are all pagan. (The “cross” is pagan, too, but research that for yourself!) The Jewish women in Jeremiah chapter forty-four plainly told God’s man that they were blessed by their idols and were going to continue their idolatrous worship. They refused to obey the Word of God as spoken by God’s man Jeremiah. This preacher does not dare compare himself with Jeremiah. So he fully expects all sorts of people to continue with their idolatrous observances: if they would not listen to Jeremiah, they will not listen to this preacher. But God sees and God remembers. Either do as God pleases or do as you please. You are free, but you will be required to give an answer to God one day.

THE CHRISTIAN AND TATTOOS Curtis Pugh – Poteau, Oklahoma

THE CHRISTIAN AND TATTOOS

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

Fads come and go in our modern American society. Styles of clothing, shoes, hair, etc. often change. Even medical ideas come and go. The same is true with religious fads among professing Christians. There was a time when sermons were printed and sold and read by most people. They were discussed in homes, in business places and even in drinking establishments. Evidence: the Penny Pulpit publications of yesteryear. Today most Americans seldom hear a sermon and their British counterparts even more seldom. Right now tattoos are a fad. And just like clothing fads, some professing Christians are running after the tattoo fad. And in this day of “feel good religion” success-oriented preachers dare not risk offending people by taking a stand on any subject. As followers of the Lamb, what attitude should God’s born-again people take toward the subject of tattoos?

The Bible is not silent on the matter of disfigurement of the human body. In the Old Testament God prohibited the Israelites from doing such things. He said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). Young’s literal translation translates “for the dead” with the words “for the soul.” Most commentators agree that the cuttings made were indeed signs of mourning among the pagans in the midst of whom Israel dwelt. It may be that at least some of the tattoos or printed “marks” were also related to this practice. They most certainly were pagan. Some pagans probably tattooed themselves in memory of loved ones – either living or dead – while others were tattooed to demonstrate their devotion to a particular pagan god or goddess. Pagan soldiers sometimes marked themselves with tattoos identifying the general under whom they served. But God’s national people, Israel, was prohibited from such practices. That is abundantly clear! The New Testament also prohibits anything connected with idols. John wrote: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21). If keeping ourselves from idols is not important to God, why did the Holy Spirit guide John to write these words?

Aside from the danger of diseases being spread by tattoos and the unknown long-term medical effects of tattoo inks in the body, the question arises: is it right for a follower of the Lamb to mark his or her bodies with tattoos? (Both aids and hepatitis have been traced to contaminated tattoo ink and needles. One statistic indicates that tattooed persons are 9 times more likely to get hepatitis than those not tattooed. Some have suggested that all tattooed persons should be immediately tested for hepatitis.) But aside from medical concerns, are there other considerations for those who claim to be children of God? We answer yes! After all, the Bible clearly teaches that the body of each of God’s true children is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Paul wrote: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). It is true that the children of God today are not subject to the Old Testament or Mosaic law, but how can any right thinking person conclude that a believer in Christ is glorifying God by tattooing his or her body? Purity of life, modesty of dress, cleanness of speech, simplicity of lifestyle, deeds of kindness, the assembling together with believers and separation from the world are to be the outward “marks” of those indwelt by the Holy Ghost. One old preacher said that Christians ought to look like Christians, talk like Christians, live like Christians and even smell like Christians. We agree! Glorification of God in all things pertaining to ourselves and our lives is to be the hallmark of the child of God. Marking of the body with tattoos cannot be rightly thought to glorify God since it was prohibited in the Old Testament!

Let us consider the relationship of tattoos with nudity. We live in a day and age when it is obvious that most professing Christians give little thought to the idea of dressing modestly. Visit the average church or notice how people are dressed in the restaurants on Sunday after church services if you doubt that statement. Even most preachers and their wives wear shorts, tight-fitting clothes, sleeveless and see-through garments and clothing made of clinging textiles. Short skirts and tight pants are the norm for women in most religious groups. Of course they have their flimsy excuses: the weather is too hot or too cold, etc., ad nauseam. Concerned pastors have heard them all. The law of Christ – the law of love toward Christ and the brethren – is this: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 3:10). Paul stated this more clearly with these words: “…that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). No professed Christians loves Christ or his or her brother in Christ if they dress or behave in such a way as to cause a brother or sister to sin in thought, word or deed. There is a very real sense in which we are our brother’s keeper! And suggestive or immodest dress (they are the same thing) causes a multitude of evil thoughts to flourish in those who cannot help but see such things. The mentality of the world is one of showing much flesh either actually or suggestively. (Sometimes the suggestion or illusion of nudity is more alluring to the sin nature than actual nudity). What does the current unconcern of professing Christians with their own nudity have to do with tattoos? Just this: both involve exhibitionism. The motive for all kinds of exhibitionism springs from a wicked and prideful heart. The desire to dress provocatively is akin to the desire to display tattoos on the body. Both call attention to the person’s body. That is the purpose of both. Persons who get tattoos most often display them rather than hide them. Men and women who dress to show off their bodies in an alluring or prideful way are doing the same kind of thing as those who display their tattoos. And vice-versa. Modest clothing is clothing that is designed to conceal not to reveal. There is no such thing as a modest yet revealing piece of clothing. And in no way can the display of tattoos said to be modest because they are obtained for showmanship reasons. Read what God has to say about nakedness in the Old Testament if you think modesty is a thing of indifference to God. There it is revealed that your nakedness belongs to your husband or your wife. It is not yours to prostitute to the world in sinful displays. The whole idea of such exhibitionism is one of display or nakedness. This is also a part of the reason people get tattoos: to display and call attention to their bodies and thus themselves. In a sense, tattoos do not evidence modesty. Say what you will, Holy Ghost regenerated people want to live holy and righteous lives. Holy living is separated living. You will convince no one that you are a true child of God if you look like the world: tattoos included!

As a practical matter we cannot but think of the words of poet John Keats: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases…” By Keats’ standard, tattoos are most certainly not “a thing of beauty.” They are not “a joy forever!” It has been estimated that as many as 50% of those people who get tattoos live to regret their action. Mature consideration does not regard tattoos as “a thing of beauty” and thus the impetuous action of a moment in youth often leads to years of regret. Many people do in fact regret having gotten such marks on their bodies and spend time and money trying to have them removed. Tattoo removal is a growing business in the United States. After time and gravity have their devastating effects on the body, sagging skin often contributes to huge increases in the ugliness of old tattoos obtained in youth. It cannot be said of tattoos that their “loveliness increases!”

Besides their pagan origins, tattoos have until recently been associated with a dissipated lifestyle. The acceptance of tattoos in today’s society is an acceptance of a dissipated lifestyle. Drunkards, drug abusers, whore-mongers, promiscuous women and such like were the people who obtained tattoos until the present-day fad came along. Today’s tattoo fad is directly related to the present immorality of our society. What was once looked down upon as trashy living is now acceptable to most people. Prison tattoos along with men wearing sagging pants have migrated from the cell to the streets and the schools. This is to be expected as a consequence of taking the Bible out of schools. Sociologists are concerned that Americans lack morals. Teenage murderers are common today. Why not? Schools teach evolution. They are generally forbidden to teach the Bible. The consequence of evolution is that humans are no different than dogs or worms. Killing one of them is a matter of no real consequence if you can get away with it: this is the common idea. Marriage is looked upon as unimportant: couples shack up and society and most churches take no stand against such actions. As morality slides ever more rapidly downward, all kinds of things formerly regarded as sinful or pagan are now acceptable. So it is with tattoos. It is of interest to note that we have known some tattooed people who later in life professed a good profession. Without exception they regretted having been tattooed in their younger years. These people, after professing faith in Christ, were careful to dress so as to hide the tattoos obtained in their early years of sinful living. This ought to speak volumes to anyone considering getting a tattoo!

What can we expect regarding the future of tattoos? A kindred question is this: What surprises await God’s elect in this present age of apostasy? Are today’s professed Christians at all concerned with the pagan origin of tattoos? Not at all! Popular “Christianity” is saturated with paganism. Most professing Christians celebrate pagan holidays such as Christmas and Easter, etc., with not a thought or concern for what they are really doing. These are all part and parcel of the same thing. Today’s “Christians” care not that practicing pagans and occultists among whom they dwell laugh at them for their worshiping of idols. Pagans know that by these “Christianized” observances professing believers actually honor the pagan gods whose days they are. So it is that the pagan origin of tattoos is of no concern to them. As stated above, most professing Christians have also thrown out any real concern for modesty so it should not surprise us when these people follow after the current fad of marking their bodies. They think it is of no consequence that they obey their sinful and prideful desires to be noticed and approved by the world. Perhaps the current fad shall fade away in time if the Lord allows much more time to pass, but to many that is doubtful. Perhaps this present tattoo fad is a part of the subtle work of Satan to get people accustomed to receiving and observing marks in people’s bodies. After all, there is coming a time when a mark in the forehead or in the hand will be necessary to survive according to the Book of Revelation.

This preacher is convinced that God’s true children should have nothing to do with the current recurrence of the pagan fad of tattooing. In no way can tattooing glorify God. The desire for tattoos springs from a sinful heart filled with selfish longing for attention just as all exhibitionism does. In short those who desire tattoos are motivated by sinful pride. The facts remain: tattoos are pagan in their origin. They were forbidden to God’s ancient people. And they do not evidence that holiness or separation that is to be the mark of God’s true children. The aged John summed it up this way: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). What more needs to be said?

A BIBLICAL LOOK AT SUICIDE Curtis Pugh Poteau, Oklahoma

A BIBLICAL LOOK AT SUICIDE

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

A recent report published by the United States government Centers for Disease Control says that in this country death by suicide is now more frequent than death by automobile crashes. Furthermore, the report says that suicide has increased some 28% among White People, American Indians and Alaska Natives between the ages of 35 to 64. The biggest increases in suicide rates were amongst people aged 50 to 54 years (up 48%) and 55 to 59 years (up 49%). The rates for those aged 10 to 34 and those 65 or older did not change much. This news is indeed distressing. If this trend continues you and I can expect to hear of more and more suicides amongst our families, neighbors and acquaintances in the future. While we believe that the greatest single deterrent to the sin of suicide is an experience of regeneration by the Holy Spirit in connection with Divine Truth, there are some questions that do come to mind. Obviously professing Christians do commit suicide. However, one question that arises is this: can a true child of God commit suicide? Along with that question, another one is this: if a true child of God commits suicide will he or she spend eternity with the Lord or not?

The Arminian view held by many Protestants, some Baptists and the various branches of the Catholic church is that suicide automatically results in eternal punishment. The idea behind the typical Arminian view seems to be that a person who commits suicide cannot afterward be forgiven of his sin. If he is of the Catholic party, he cannot seek and be absolved of the sin of suicide by a priest. That is their view. Protestants and Baptists who hold that suicide results in eternal punishment do so based upon the idea that after the commission of such an act a person cannot repent and confess his sin. Thus the forgiveness of sin in their mind depends not upon the finished work of Christ, but upon the actions of sinful human beings. To them, forgiveness is based upon man’s works, not upon God’s grace. To them justification can be undone by unconfessed sin. It matters not to them that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to the believing sinner. According to the popular view, justification is negated by failing to confess one’s sins – in the case of suicide, by failing to confess just one sin.

However there is another view. Some people believe that God will work in such a way as to not allow His true children to commit suicide. This writer can find no basis in the Bible for it. This view causes those who hold it to automatically condemn to eternal punishment all professing Christians who commit suicide. To be consistent they must condemn to eternal punishment all who fail to confess even one sin! It is true that God provides grace for His true sons and daughters, but it is also true that all of us sometimes fail to avail ourselves of it. The Bible says: „There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13). That verse certainly is true. However, Christians still sin. We do not always look for the way of escape! There is nothing in the Bible of which this writer is aware that teaches that God will not allow His true sons and daughters to take their own lives any more than there is a verse that says God will not allow His children to commit any other sin.

The Bible teaches that while all sins are equal in that they are disobedience to God, there are some sins that result in more severe consequences than others. There are natural consequences to sin and there are eternal consequences also. For instance, Jesus said that certain persons saw His revelatory works but did not repent: of these He said, „But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee” (Matthew 11:20). Clearly, those who are given more light will be judged more severely than those who have received less light. Speaking of Pilate Jesus said, „…he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Here Christ spoke of the High Priest and perhaps other Jewish religious leaders who were well-taught in the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. In spite of their knowledge they sinned by willfully rejecting their Messiah (Jesus) when He came to them. The difference is not in degree of disobedience; rather the difference is in degree of punishment. This difference in punishment is tied to the amount of light against which a person sins. If we understand this, we see that all the sins which men commit are equally reprehensible in God’s sight and ought to be in our sight also – even those „little sins” we allow in our own lives.

There is only one sin mentioned in the Bible as being unforgivable. Jesus said, „Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). Do we have the right to say that there are two unpardonable sins? We know that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unpardonable. But if suicide is also unpardonable why is it not so stated in the Bible? What Biblical authority do we have for saying that suicide is unpardonable? Or should we class suicide as one of the „all manner of sin and blasphemy” which Jesus said „shall be forgiven unto men?” We must admit, if we believe the Bible, that all sin is sin. Killing another person or killing one’s self is no worse than telling a lie or having lustful thoughts about the spouse of another in the sense that all these things are a transgression of God’s law. There are no „white lies” or „white sins.” So we must conclude that suicide is no worse than any other sin. Consider James 2:10-11: „For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”

Let us consider these facts. When Christ died He died for the sins of people yet unborn. That is, He died for sins yet uncommitted. If He did not, all who have sinned since He died are yet in their sins. To paraphrase old John Owen, Christ died either for (1) all the sins of some men: (2) some of the sins of all men: or (3) all the sins of all men. We believe that the first is the truth: Christ died for all the sins of some men. If Christ died for only some of the sins of all men, then all men yet have sins for which they must answer. If this is true, then all men are hopelessly lost for they must pay for those sins not paid for by Christ. On the other hand, if Christ died for all the sins of all men, then all men are saved. This last is, of course, foreign to the teaching of the Bible. If Christ died for all the sins of His elect then all their sins – past, present and future – have already been paid for by the precious blood of Christ. Paul’s words addressed the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia are recorded for us. In Acts 13:39 he spoke specifically about what Christ accomplished. His words were these: „And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” True believers are „justified from all things!” Justification is a two-sided coin. It means the righteousness of Christ is put down on the account sheet of one who believes. It also means that God no longer puts down their sins on their account. This is clearly stated by Paul in Romans 4:8 where he wrote: „Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Think about the meaning of that verse, please! Unless you understand the two-fold nature of justification, you will not have a clear picture of what God does for those who believe. True believers are declared to be righteous even though they are sinners. That is one side of the coin. And sin is no longer imputed to them. That is the other side of the coin. It matters not whether the sin is of omission or commission. It matters not whether the sin committed is one of thought, word or deed. It matters not whether the sin was committed prior to or subsequent to the new birth. So, why then, is suicide said to be some kind of unforgivable sin which will send a true child of God to eternal punishment? Did not Christ promise safety and security to all that come to Him? Did He not specifically say, „No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”? (John 6:44). This is a promise of a future blessed resurrection to all whom are drawn by the Father to Christ. Is not this a promise of eternal safety and security? If we hear that a child of God becomes so emotionally distraught or mentally afflicted as to take his own life, we must ask some questions. (1) Did God know ahead of time that such a sin would be committed by one of His elect? (2) If so, did Christ die for that sin as well as the other sins of this elect person? (3) Was such a believer justified from this sin as well as all the others committed by him? We must answer these questions in the affirmative. Yes, God knew from eternity of such a sin and yes, Christ died for all the sins of the elect. And yes, by Christ „all that believe are justified from all things.” This is free and sovereign grace! This is salvation!

But, someone says, what about 1 John 1:9? That verse says: „If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Does not that verse teach that we have to confess our sins to have forgiveness? Let us remember first of all that forgiveness and justification are not the same thing. Ponder that a bit, please. Next, let us look at this verse in its immediate context. We read: „This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:5-2:2). We may be sure that these words concern saved people. The „we” does not include the unregenerate. Do not err by making plural pronouns include more than the context indicates. Second, notice that John here writes not about individual acts of sin but about habitual or continual sins. One individual act of sin does not mean that a person is walking in darkness. What John says here is that if or since we walk in the light we have fellowship with Him. Fellowship with other believers is not the subject here. Fellowship with God is the issue! If you doubt that, read the context cited above again, please! This passage teaches that if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Him in whom is no darkness at all. Walking in the light or according to the truth is evidence that „the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” What sin? The answer is all sin! Did you notice that the Bible clearly says that „the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” „That means both confessed sins and unconfessed sins, does it not? If it does not, pray tell how a child of God is cleansed from unconfessed sins? If he is not cleansed of unconfessed sins, how shall he escape eternal punishment? Will just one honestly forgotten and therefore unconfessed sin condemn one of God’s elect to eternal punishment? Now some would tell us that this cleansing applies only to past sins – sins committed before we were regenerated. Therefore they conclude that there is a work we must do in order to obtain forgiveness for sins committed after we were born again. Such a view, it must be admitted, confuses forgiveness with imputed righteousness and holds that salvation is at least in part by works.

We have pointed out that the context of the passage quoted above is clearly about walking in fellowship with God! The issue is not „sonship,” but fellowship! The issue is not justification, but forgiveness. That is the context! „Sonship” has to do with justification (imputed righteousness). The „sonship” of all the elect throughout the whole world depends upon the propitiation (satisfaction or payment) made for our sins by Christ. God said in Isaiah 53:11 that „He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” When the Father saw the travail of Jesus Christ’s soul as He hung on the tree, God was satisfied. The demands of God’s justice were met. Christ bore „their sins” – i.e., the sins of many whom He justified by His death. Furthermore, Christ, who satisfied the just nature of God by His death, is our advocate with the Father. The very One who paid for all the sins of all the elect now appears in Heaven on their behalf! Christ was the satisfactory payment for all the sins of all the elect throughout all the world. That is what enables and determines the „sonship” of God’s elect people.

While „sonship” (justification) is dependent upon the work of Christ for His people, „fellowship” is another matter. Fellowship is walking in fellowship with God. It is communion with Him. It depends upon whether or not we walk in the truth and includes whether or not we confess our sins. The idea of confession in 1 John 1:9 is not merely a dry intellectual recital or enumeration of acts of sin which we have committed. Someone said it means to say the same thing about our sins as God says. It means to see and speak of them as the horrible deeds they are. It means – having seen the holiness of God – that we say with Job, „Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). It means to condemn or judge sin in our own lives. The Bible is clear: if we do not say the same thing about our sins as God does – if we do not judge ourselves, we can expect chastening from God. Paul made this clear even in the sin of omitting self-examination prior to taking the Lord’s supper. He wrote, „For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

When a child disobeys a parent by a willful act of disobedience fellowship is broken between them. The parent may chasten the child hoping to bring about repentance. But until the child sees and repents of his or her wrong, fellowship remains broken. The child is not walking according to the wishes and instructions of the parent. The child is in rebellion to the parent to one degree or another. But the child has not destroyed his or her „sonship” by such disobedience. The disobedient child is still the son or daughter of the parent and will ever be even though they no longer „have fellowship one with another.” The same is true of the child of God in relationship with the Father. „Sonship” is never destroyed. The righteousness of Christ never ceases to be imputed to the believer! Sin is never imputed to the believer! Just as your natural child will always be your child, so the child of God is always God’s child. Even suicide cannot destroy that relationship! Why should it? It is not a greater sin than any other. What is destroyed by acts of sin – and that temporarily – is fellowship. And only confession to God restores that fellowship!

Are we Baptists going to take the position of the Thomists (Arminian Catholics)? Will we say that if a person dies with unconfessed sin they cannot go to be with the Lord? Will we imagine a Baptist purgatory? Purgatory is the Catholic answer to unconfessed venial sins. Are we such strangers to grace as to think that our actions are the cause of either our initial or our final salvation? Can we not accept the fact that all the sins of God’s elect were paid for by Christ? Do we really believe that we can pay for or somehow erase our sins by confessing them? Are we capable of such a Divine act? Can we not understand the difference between fellowship and „sonship?”

There is a promise of God to His people that will prevent suicide. It is a positive promise of both mental and emotional safety. This promise is found in Philippians 4:6-7 which says: „Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The promise here is for a garrisoned heart and a garrisoned mind. It is clearly stated that this keeping or garrisoning of the heart (emotions) and mind (intellect) is by the peace of God which passes all understanding. Someone said this is the kind of peace that must be „felt” rather than „telt.” This is a peace only experienced by true children of God when they (1) do not worry but who (2) in faith make their requests known unto God earnestly and with thanksgiving. (3) This praying and thanksgiving must include „every thing.” Prayer with thanksgiving in all things is the boat hook that pulls our little boats along the dock of God’s sovereign unchangeable will. As one man said it, „I have often used a boat hook to pull my boat alongside the dock. But I have never used a boat hook to pull the dock alongside my boat.” Surely this promise means much to those who understand something of the absolute sovereignty of God for only they understand that all things both good and evil come from the hand of God (see Job 2:10). After all, God is absolutely sovereign and therefore is in control of all things. Although He chastens His children, He shall never allow real harm to come to them. Sins committed by true believers may result in temporary pain or hurt as God chastens His children. But no real harm spiritually or eternally comes to them. Even so the act of suicide cannot spiritually or eternally harm the child of God. (It is certain to hurt the family and friends of the one who commits suicide and it will certainly bring a reproach on the name of Christ and upon the congregation of which the person is a member).

Let us always keep in mind that the world in which we find ourselves is enemy territory. This modern world is too much with us and we are too weak to walk through it alone and unaided even thought we are God’s regenerated sons and daughters. The carelessness of prayerless-ness and unthankful-ness is not walking in the light. From such omissions as prayerless-ness and unthankful-ness we can expect discouragement, despair, and depression. These things come when we have not docked our little boat alongside God’s dock. These are the seeds of suicide. The CDC report cited at the first of this article mentioned that „…those struggling with financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or violence, stress of caregiving for children and aging parents, substance abuse and serious or chronic health problems” are the most likely people to commit suicide. True children of God face these difficulties even as others. These are problems that often seem insurmountable even to the children of God – especially to those of us in the United States. We are presently either experiencing difficult times or are seeing them zooming toward us on the horizon – or both. We see increasing losses of freedom and a society that has thrown away the morals and ethics of the Bible. These things are beloved to the children of God. Furthermore, we must admit that we have become accustomed to prosperity and a „cushy” lifestyle. Experiencing the erosion of such a lifestyle is stressful. Such stresses as these added to daily personal pressures which we all experience sometimes become what seems to be an insurmountable mountain. Only „by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” can the child of God experience „the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” And only by experiencing it will God’s peace „keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We must walk – i.e., live prayerfully and thankfully for all things – so that we walk in fellowship with God. In that way the glorious „peace of God, which passeth all understanding” shall guard our hearts and minds. Paul exhorted his readers with this brief phrase: „…continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). That is the need of the hour! Let us all seek to „walk in the light, as he is in the light” so that „we [God and the believer] have fellowship one with another.” The three Hebrew children were enabled to survive in the fiery furnace because Christ was with them. King Nebuchadnezzar looked into that furnace and said that he saw four men and that „the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Fellowship with God is only ours when we walk in the light! Consider these words of exhortation: „As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). Amen.

CHRIST’S CHURCH BEFORE PENTECOST Curtis Pugh Poteau, Oklahoma

CHRIST’S CHURCH BEFORE PENTECOST

Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

 

We are well aware that the popular notion today is that the church was born on the Day of Pentecost following the Lord’s ascension back to Heaven. Whether one believes in a universal visible church or a universal invisible church or only in local churches, this is the common theory prevalent today. Since the Lord Jesus promised “…I will build my church…” we think it better to believe Him rather than some theory of man that says the Holy Spirit built the church. (See Matthew 16:18). The Greek word for “build” transliterates as “oikodomeo” and means to “dome up” or complete a house or building. Further to the point, John the Baptist used the word “bride” of Christ’s congregation while He was on earth, saying “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (John 3:29). The term “bride” is used consistently throughout the New Testament as a metaphor speaking of Christ’s Church, so it seems clear that John said that Christ had a Church prior to Pentecost!

 

Baptist elder S.E. Anderson in one of his books lists 21 things that Christ’s (local) Church had before Pentecost. Here is Bro. Anderson’s list.

1. Believers before Pentecost had the Gospel. (Matt. 4:23; Acts 19:4)

 

2. Believers before Pentecost were genuinely converted. (Luke 1:15-17; 19:1-10)

 

3. Believers before Pentecost were baptized after conversion. (Matt. 3:6-8)

 

4. Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their Head. (Matt. 23:8)

 

5. Believers before Pentecost were instructed in Church polity. (Matt. 18:15-20)

 

6. Believers before Pentecost were ordained. (John 15:16)

 

7. Believers before Pentecost were commissioned (Matt. 28:16-20)

 

8. Believers before Pentecost were organized enough for their needs. (John 13:29)

 

9. Believers before Pentecost had a missions program. (Matt. 10:1- 11:1)

 

10. Believers before Pentecost had the essentials of church-life. (Evangelism, service and worship, and the presence of Christ among them) (Matt. 4:9; 18:20)

 

11. Believers before Pentecost had qualified pastors. (John 21:15-17)

 

12. Believers before Pentecost had the Lord’s Supper. (Matt. 26:26-30)

 

13. Believers before Pentecost had the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)

 

14. Believers before Pentecost had Divine power to do Christ’s work. (Luke 9:1)

 

15. Believers before Pentecost sang “in the midst of the church.” (compare Heb. 2:12; with Matt. 26:30)

 

16. Believers before Pentecost had prayer meetings. (Acts 1:14)

 

17. Believers before Pentecost had business meetings. (Acts 1:15-26)

 

18. Believers before Pentecost had a membership roll. (Matt. 10:2-4; Acts 1:13-15)

 

19. Believers before Pentecost were united into a church in such a way that they could be “added unto.” (Acts 2:1 & 41)

 

20. Believers before Pentecost had Christ as their Foundation and Corner Stone (Matt: 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20)

 

21. Believers before Pentecost had Christ for a time as their pastor (“poimen”). Eph. 4:11 & John 10:14.

 

Now we raise this question: What did the church have after Pentecost that she did not have before Pentecost? She lacked one thing prior to Pentecost: The public testimony of God’s power. This was shown to all observers when Christ, the Divine Administrator, immersed His waiting Church into the Holy Spirit with demonstrable power as seen on that day of Pentecost. Prior to Pentecost she existed and lacked nothing that she gained on Pentecost other than that public testimony of Divine favor. So it was with the temple built by Solomon. It was complete and existed prior to the time the visible glory of the Lord filled the house. It was a real temple fitted for the worship and service of God, lacking only the visible Presence of God. (See 1 Kings chapter 8). And the Lord’s Church, prior to Pentecost, was a real, functioning Church, lacking only the manifestation of the glory and power of God which came on that Day of Pentecost.

 

IF a church of any kind was born or built or formed on Pentecost, why is the Bible silent on this matter? There is not a verse in the Bible that says that any kind of church came into being on Pentecost. And IF a church was established on Pentecost, she had to reach back into an old dispensation to get baptism, the Lord’s Supper and to get authority to make converts, baptize them, and teach them to observe what Christ commanded. Why do I say this? Because baptism, the supper, and the great commission were all entrusted to a body that existed prior to the church IF the church began on Pentecost. What body was this? So then, any church established after the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ has no ordinances and no commission or authority to act. And this is true for all churches which came into existence after Christ built His Church. What holes men dig for themselves when they leave off believing and following the Bible!

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