At this last Wednesday Bible study there rose a statement that must be answered for the whole church. It was handled in the next morning Bible study and prayer meeting at church; however, I worry that others might be involved or making the same mistake.
Agape church is an all people’s Christian church, and we attract folks from all religious background and beliefs. God also has my Address and He sends some humdingers at times. As a result, I go over and over a lot of material that is critical to our Bible position as a church, and critical for each of our people’s understanding of the Word of God.
The Bible is a library of 66 books, written over 1600 years of time, on three different continents, in three major languages and a few pages of minor languages from neighboring or captor countries. There are a minimum of 40 authors to perhaps 48 writers that include women, kings, shepherds, prophets, farmers, carpenters, fishermen, tax collectors, rich boys with a silver spoon in their mouth, and so much more. It tells one continuing story, and has one central theme. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD-BREATHED… and that means that God caused the thoughts, ideas, memory, and history to be accurate and in place, but allowed the writers to use their own vocabulary, personal characteristics, and style. The results were a partnership between the writer and God to form a book from God, written by man.
I worked with a Roman Catholic brother that used to say, “It took some great restraint on the part of Jesus to sit in the synagogue and listen to some rabbi tell him what he meant as recorded in Isaiah.” And indeed it did. For every word in the Bible comes from the heart and mind of God.
This last Wednesday night, a student of the Bible said that she, “wanted to hear taught only from the red letters of the Bible and not what Paul had to say on a subject.” Now, she was referring to a red letter edition of the Bible where the words of Jesus are in red ink. That started nearly a war of scriptures and ideas, and arguments that were on target, but were not entering into the mind of the one that had made that statement. It was 8:05, thank goodness, when I looked at my watch and called for closing prayer. Not because I don’t like a heated Bible study, but I want to have control and I want to direct the teachings and thinking in a way to educate and teach; it wasn’t happening, I called for closing prayer. The meeting calmed down, and continued for another half hour.
I called the next morning Bible study to order with that person in attendance that had made the statement, and asked for a favor that I wanted no questions, interruptions, or comments until my lesson was over, then we would be open for questions, comments and statements; it worked.
The problems are multiple:
(1). You can prove just about any thing by taking one or two verses out of context and making a theology out of that statement. You need to consider every thing the Bible says on a subject to get the total picture.
(2). You have to determine the context and the dispensation that it represents. Laws, rules, acceptance of the Lord are different in the Patriarch, Hebrew law, and Christian era. As they will be in the tribulation, the Millennium and in the city four Square.
(3). Most of Jesus’ words are spoken in the Old Testament, since the New Testament begins, as far as covenant is concerned, at Acts 2. This means that many of Jesus’ statements are superseded by himself on the night he was betrayed, and by Peter, Paul and the other apostles and James the half brother of the Lord.
We are told that the prophets of old and new spoke for the Lord, and spoke as the Lord gave them words, utterance (Hebrews 1:1ff). David is said to speak for the Holy Spirit and as directed by God, Acts 2. Paul was called to speak for the Lord to the Gentiles, the house of Israel and kings… Acts 9. John saw the Lord in all his resurrected glory on the Lord’s day in Revelation 1, and the Lord told him to write down what he saw. Revelation warns not to add or take away anything in the book.
The mega Hebrew church in Jerusalem would not accept that the Law had been nailed to the cross, and the “Red letter ordinance that was against us was taken away.” This caused the elder’s meeting of Acts 15, and Paul to get arrested by being in the temple doing a purification rite that was no longer necessary. That ended eventually in his death. So not taking the scripture as a whole caused the church to be actually responsible for Paul’s death. The Gentiles a couple hundred years later got back at the Jews by creating a substitutionary or superseding theology that the church replaced the Jews in God’s future plans and created 1600 years of error, anti-Semitic holocaust in all of Europe. This was not corrected until the Declaration of Independence and the Bill or Rights and the amendments brought the messing of government to a screeching halt in dealing with the individual reading and following the Bible. Thus creating the most fantastic two hundred years of missionary, evangelistic, and true Holy Universal Church of Jesus Christ that the world has ever seen.
Part of this is understandable since until the printing press, and actually for many years after, many a Christian leader lived and died without every holding in his own hand his own Bible. During this time, hymns and creeds were the teaching tools of the church. They were easy to memorize and they were the road map to heaven that many depended on.
By the 1800s in the western world, nearly every church and family had a family Bible that all shared and Bible knowledge moved at exponential speed toward the age of biblical ignorance that we are in today with a half dozen Bibles in nearly every Christian home and Bibles a $1.00 a piece at the dollar store.
This era of Bible ignorance came about with the abundance of Bibles for everyone; they became so common that they lost their sacred place in our heart. I remember grandmother demanding nothing placed on top of the Bible and no one dared made a mark in the Bible, and it was read every day to the whole family, and we memorized it.
Today we have gone to reading and memorizing spiritual McNuggets that are a verse or two out of context and they sound so good and we get credit for reading the word. They are all like baloney, good, but the same wherever you cut it.
We have lost the ability of viewing the Bible as a whole and understanding the story of the Bible as a whole. We just went through ten weeks of viewing the ten DVDs of the Bible from the History channel that Marc and Mary Pinney, my dear grandchildren, sent to us as a gift. This started our extra hour long question and answer period after church on Sunday night to handle all questions that come up.
By teaching Sunday Bible school, AM worship, PM worship, Wed night verse by verse and Monday through Friday morning Bible study and prayer time, moving chapter by chapter through the Bible, we are seeking to teach the whole counsel of God. And keep it in order and connected. Along with this is our Sunday magazine, the Epistle, and continued Bible study, history, philosophy and theology along with a lot of Herbisms that may or may not help. We do not want you “Ignorant brothers.”
Taking just a verse here and there over the years 200 AD to 1800 AD created the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Coptic, and a dozen other catholic churches. Along with all the European Protestant religions from the Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and many others into being. These basically fought with each other and among themselves and after 1800 with the freedom granted by the government of the United States, a great number of frontier religions came into being on the frontiers of America. By 1975 there became a yearning for the Restoration pleading of turning to John 17, and working together and loving each other as family, and we began to see a work worldwide of the family of God coming together to handle some problems such as abortion, reaching the peoples of the world with the gospel and educating full-time workers and “tent makers” so they could go into all the world. This also allowed some fantastic cooperation on the mission field of families that did not have to agree that all wear a “red bandana,” but we were one in the Lord on the basics of salvation and Biblical authority. We came together to reach the lost, to print Bibles, and material and to build great human works to reach people for Christ such as hospitals, schools and water wells.
I am a Stone-Campbell Restorationalist from the beginning. Our family goes back to Barton W. Stone and the Cain Ridge Revivals in the 1800s with the Christian Church. I have read our good and great works, and many of the minor writers that are friends of mine. What I am constantly hearing now on Moody Radio and on the Mesquite Christian radio are Baptists, Evangelicals and many others quoting our Restoration Fathers and falling in line with the Christian Baptist, the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.
My personal journey has taken me from a very biblical Disciples of Christ church where my father as an elder moved the church from a secular position to a very biblical position with Ben Tollin, attending a non instrumental church of Christ, to coming under the direction of Dr. C. C. Crawford and the hard right wing of the independent Christian churches and the teaching of the independent Christian Bible college of Ozark, to more of the Barton W. Stone view of Bible cooperation while holding tight to the whole Bible. The past ten years after God took me to the “wood shed” with 18 days on the medically dead list, the cutting off of my right arm and gluing it back on three times, to the removal of my left hip joint and so much more, while spending the better part of two years in 6 different hospitals, I dove head first into my own Bible scholarship with no outside guides getting between me and the Bible. Suddenly the parts that I had just accepted as church doctrine were clearing up, and I found myself at odds with some old professors and in harmony with different brothers and finding a tremendous satisfaction of getting the answers for myself. I am even a more persuaded Restorationist now than before, even if I reject the balance of the Presbyterian dogmas that Campbell never examined and sound more like an Evangelical than a church of Christ ideologue. Then some of my Church of Christ friends in Louisiana are welcoming me home finally. I have discovered that heaven is a much larger place than I thought at one time. I guess I have come to being comfortable with the Lord deciding who is saved as per Acts 2:47 and eating the Lord’s Supper with a brother that we just finished a ten hour biblical discussion with no resolution, attending a Right-to-Life meeting with a Roman Catholic and fighting for Biblical marriage with an Orthodox Priest.