WHAT IS TRUTH? (Part 2) Monday, Mar 10 2014 

The reader will want to go back over the previous article, since this issue builds on that premise. There is only one biblical hermeneutic, and it produces a theology that is biblical. That one system is simply the normal, plain, clear, consistent, literal use of language. All other systems fall into one category and will allow the interpreter to insert into the text whatever he may choose. The one biblical system is scientific, and it is mathematical. If you use the system and its clearly defined rules, you will always come up with the same answer.

It is extremely frustrating to go to five different commentaries, written by experts, and find five different interpretations of a single passage. These scholars are supposed to be the authority, but it seems they cannot find a common answer. Since each text can have only one interpretation, one of those scholars may possibly be right, but…they could all be wrong, too. It makes one wonder if any of them is right and how many other things they may be wrong about. How can we ever be sure?

The answer is simple. It isn’t that they have different interpretations, but rather that they use different systems of interpretation. Since all those systems allow the reader to insert his own sincerely held views, the text becomes corrupted. The one biblical system, however, will deliver a correct message if its rules are obeyed.

WHERE WE BEGIN

One of the major problems in this discipline is where to begin. You have to begin and end with the Bible text. If you begin with a denominational creed, or a theological confession, you will end up with error because you began with error. If you begin with a covenant or reformed hermeneutic, it is impossible to end up with a theology that is biblical. This may shock you, but there is no such thing as a dispensational hermeneutic, so you cannot begin there if you want to know what the text says for itself. It is true that the use of the one biblical system will lead to a dispensational theology, but that theology rises from the text and not from a preconceived hermeneutic. For some, eschatology is not important; and they would say it doesn’t matter. If you begin with the text, use the biblical system, and obey the rules, it does matter. Foundational truth is not like a cafeteria or a dart board. The biblical hermeneutic is clear and plain, until such time as it is corrupted by a humanly devised system. It does matter that there is a Millennium, and it does matter where and when Christ is coming for His church. These are clearly stated with the normal hermeneutic.

THE WORD “LITERAL”

This is demonstrated in the accidental, or deliberate, misuse of the word “literal”. It is dishonest to say that those who hold a literal interpretation see everything as literal, meaning that even pictures are the real thing. There are some fine works on this subject, and the serious reader should consider reading them. The normal, plain, clear, consistent, literal use of language is just that. It is the text that tells us the answer, not some twisted grammatical pretzel. We take everything in the text as the normal, literal use of language unless the text clearly tells us it is some other form. Literal interpretation simply means that we accept what the Bible states, including language forms.

An illustration of this is Revelation, chapter 20. Five times at the beginning of this chapter you see the term “one thousand years”. What is the normal, plain, clear, consistent, literal use of this term in language? Even a first grader could answer that one! So why would anyone choose to corrupt the answer, as some scholars have done? The answer is that they use the wrong hermeneutical system – one that is humanly devised – and they begin with the wrong system. These intellectuals say that when it comes to eschatology, you have to use an allegorical system. Who gave them the authority to make such a conclusion? Are they smarter than a first grader? This reminds me of the Lucifer syndrome: “I will know as much as the most high God”.

STRONG WORDS

Someone will very likely write and tell me that I am not being very charitable in this discussion. There are lots of things we do not know and about which God has not given us an answer. Those are the areas of charity. When the normal, plain, clear, consistent use of language that God has chosen to use is being trampled underfoot, I am not obligated to be silent.

We don’t seem to have any trouble shining a light on other people’s foibles, but we are not keen on our own being looked at. That is why we don’t use the same rule and rhetoric on our own crowd; but let me do that now. We complain about the misuse of interpretation and systems on the part of those who “sovereignly” decided that eschatology is allegory, while at the same time we do the very same thing in our own circles when the subject is church polity. We use literal interpretation until it comes to the doctrine of the church, and then we turn left. Of course, we are more “respectable” than they are. We “complicate to confuse” in order to get our own way when we really know that our practice in polity is nothing more than an adoption of cultural politics.

THANKFULLY CAUTIOUS

I am thankful for our forefathers in the faith. They have been a wonderful blessing to us, but they are not God and they are not perfect. Historical theology has great value, but those tenets are not the same as the Bible itself; and we should not be afraid to challenge things that jettison the plain teaching of scripture. A strongly held view that is wrong is still wrong, no matter how many years it may have been taught.

WHAT IS TRUTH? Friday, Feb 14 2014 

Truth, for the true believer, is simply what God has to say about anything. It is interesting to note that in the Gospel of John this subject is dealt with often, and it is Pilate who asks the question in John 18:38. While it is correct that Jesus Himself is truth (John 14:6), John makes it clear that the Word of God is the truth (John 17:17) and that the Holy Spirit will lead the believer into all truth (John 16:13). Not only does this ministry of the Spirit as our guide and teacher lead us into truth, but that truth is used in our sanctification (John 17:17). The text also clearly states that the Holy Spirit will carry on that ministry of truth because He indwells the believer as He began to do at Pentecost (John 15:26; 16:7, 13).

In the church age, every believer has the advantage of access to the clear statements of the Bible text and the guidance of the indwelling Spirit. The Scripture, on which we depend for truth, was inspired in the original writings and is without error. Truth is stable and consistent within the text because its words and the whole were supervised by the pure oversight of the Holy Spirit.

SO, WHAT HAPPENED TO TRUTH?

Concepts are clarified as we stand back and look at the whole. For instance, there are only two religions in the world. One is Biblical Christianity, and the other is what I have come to call “Humianity”. All religions other than Biblical Christianity find part or all of their sources in flawed human thought. The names of those religions are irrelevant. Their beliefs are legion, but they all have the same source even if their degrees of error are wide as an ocean. Final truth is found in God’s Word. Even if those religions use some Bible and have some truth, that truth is negated by the infusion of human reason.

The same concept is true in the science of hermeneutics. There is only one biblical hermeneutic that God has given to the believer. Man has invented multitudes of hermeneutical systems, but once again they all fall into the same category. They are humanly devised so that there are only two hermeneutical systems: the one biblical system and the one whose source is man. There is a wide variety of systems outside the biblical one, but they are all one because they all use the same human source.

Truth is found in the clear statement of the text before man adds his convenient adjustments to the scripture. Theological error does not come from the Bible text; it comes from man’s attempt to force the Bible to agree with human thought. Truth is safe within the bonds of the biblical hermeneutic because this system is simply the normal, plain, consistent, literal use of language.

SO, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

There are many who confess that they practice this normal use of language. They even use it some of the time…but the minute man begins to play God and gets carried away with his own ideas, truth is lost. Failure to use the biblical system and the clear rules all the time creates the same human error.

I’m constantly reading from a number of sources and am amazed at how frequently writers ruin a perfectly good study of the text by finding ways to add their own thoughts to its content. In the biblical hermeneutic, the very first step is exegesis. We are obligated to use the appropriate grammar, definition, syntax, etc. Now, this may sound simple – but it isn’t. It is far too easy to manipulate the text by forcing a meaning into it and then making that appear to be the only possible answer. This is a favorite trick used by grammarians. Remember, the Bible was not written for scholars. While we are grateful for the ministry of these godly men, God in His grace has given the rest of us believers a way to know when our theological leg has been pulled.

When the interpreter has finished with the issues of the language, all he has is a question; but he does not have an answer until he has completed the hermeneutical process. The next step for authentication is context. We all know that a text without a context is a pretext. Unfortunately, there are few who practice the rule, and this is the big bear trap. No interpretation that rests on one text can be trusted. If the teaching is central to the faith, it will be supported by both the micro and macro texts. Even here, though, it is possible to go astray; and this is another trick used by those who ignore the biblical hermeneutic. Contextual authority must be clearly identified by the text itself. That simply means that passages being considered must actually – and without question – apply to the subject under consideration.

The next step in the one biblical hermeneutic has to do with the historical setting of the content of the passage. This step enhances our understanding of the grammatical conclusion, but it does not create the doctrine. This is one of the reasons we don’t develop doctrine from the parables. On the other hand, this step is a bright light in exposing the insertion of theological systems into a text. The Holy Spirit was not acting in a foolish manner when He gave us historical settings that allow us to ask, “Does this illustration by God confirm the interpreter’s conclusion?”

FINALLY

This marvelous process of the one biblical hermeneutic is an affront to theological systems and constructs that make it possible for humans to press their ideas and conclusions on the text. Is it possible for anyone to ask, “What does the text say” and get the answer God put there? Yes, it is…if only we are sufficiently humble to admit we have been playing games with a holy book at the expense of truth. (To be continued)

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY Thursday, Jan 9 2014 

This country in which I live continues to plunge toward moral, economic, and spiritual disaster. In the world of the unregenerate, this would be no surprise; professing Christianity, however, is complicit to this looming tragedy, and no one wants to take responsibility. The liberal mind bent on change has no measuring device. It continues to create problems and generate difficulty for society, but is not willing to grasp or admit its error. For some strange reason, liberals seem to think that more moral degeneracy will make things better. The answers they offer are limited to the physical and the temporary, using such things as money to make things right. In the end, this human- based system refuses to take responsibility for the suffering it creates.

On the other side of the coin is professing Christianity. The problem here is that this crowd tends to be filled with unregenerate souls who have only a pretense of any true Christianity. In the end, their charade provides no room to bear responsibility for the misuse of scripture and the practice of polishing liberal ideas.

The real focus of this article, however, would be those of us who are true believers, who understand that Christianity is not a thing – it is a life. It is impossible to possess the gift of eternal life without its manifesting itself in the way we live. Our words and actions should betray the life within us. No one should have to search for evidence in our lives of the presence of the Holy Spirit; it is impossible to hide such power and reality. We are not talking about perfection – that is God’s work; rather, this is about our spiritual life, the existence of which is undeniable. The true believer must be careful. This fleshly house in which we live can fail, and that failure is what this discussion is all about.

THE ROOT OF RESPONSIBILITY

We love to shift blame. It all began in the Garden: it was her fault; no, it was the serpent’s fault. We all know better, so let’s face facts. The growing disaster in our nation lies at the feet of believers. Those of us who have tried to follow the clear teaching of scripture should have known better. It is time to stop the denial and get on with our responsibility. That means we will have to openly deal with those who claim the name of Christ, but who rewrite the Bible to cover their shame and disobedience.

The only way to begin work on this responsibility is to admit we have failed. It means that we need to go back to the Eternal Word of God and let the text speak for itself. This is something you will not get in the plethora of so-called evangelical publications now available. We talk to each other, but seldom to the flawed society. It appears that very soon speaking the truth of scripture is going to bring persecution. For the believer, it is time for the whole counsel of God to be broadcast to the whole of society. Stop hiding that truth under a bushel – take your responsibility.

SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES

In our busy world, we tend to become lazy. We let everyone else develop our doctrine and then take little time to search the scriptures to see if what they opine is actually true. Almost daily now, those who should know better quote “false teachers” without any disclaimer. The end result is that our listeners go to the writings of these same people and become buried in false teaching. This is only one reason why we are responsible for the decline of a nation that is fueled by error; you can’t share truths with a corrupt society when you don’t even know the truth yourself!

One of the major reasons we have failed to communicate truth to our culture is the compromise of evangelical leaders. We are told repeatedly that we are to stay silent in the open market. The idea is that we need to have “hands off” when it comes to political subjects. Now, that might be true if you are talking about political parties and candidates, but it is a serious error if you mean the discussing of biblical truths. For the true believer to be quiet about abortion, sodomy, and other moral issues is patent disobedience to a Holy God. God is the only one who has the answers to these questions, and we need to be willing to say what God says. People in our culture are deceived because they go about sharing their ignorance while we are told to be deaf and dumb when it comes to truth.

SO LET’S TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

We need to ignore ridicule from those whose father is the devil; we belong smack-dab at the center of any discussion on a subject to which God has spoken. Followers of Satan need to be chided for their human theories and destructive opinions, and we must ignore leaders who scold us for saying what God has said. If they choose to be cowards who are fearful of truth, we must not be caught up in their deadly silence. Even if some true believers are fearful to enter into public discussion, we need to do our best to serve the Lord with courage and wisdom.

Liberalism is smart, but it definitely is not wise. Liberals’ ability to debate is often disguised as right, when in fact it is merely foolish. Moderate evangelicals talk a good game, giving themselves to love, the gospel, and going about doing “good”. They don’t have time to stand firm or to dirty their white gloves with discussions which are included in the whole counsel of God. That arrogance doesn’t fool the wise true believer, though. Sure, those things may be good, but it amounts to disobedience if that is all one does with the great task God has given. May we repent of our responsibility in the matter of national failure and move forward with true responsibility.

REALITY SETS IN Monday, Oct 28 2013 

The last two Shepherd’s Staff articles have revealed some disturbing realities. First, that doctrinal error is rampant in our circles; second, that there is widespread ignorance of what the Bible text actually teaches, and finally, that there is a segment of people who are busy defending error. It could be summed up as ignorance and apathy sprinkled with denial. This premise has been constantly confirmed as we have tried to use social media to bring attention to God and His glory by discussing the Bible.

I definitely don’t know everything, and over my fifty-three years of ministry have learned that I know even less than I thought I did! There are some things, though, that are clear, and years of consideration and discussion about the Bible text have left them as a solid foundation. One of these principles is that what a person states he believes is not nearly as important as how he reached that conclusion. How we view God and His Word will make all the difference in our conclusions.

GOD AT THE CENTER OF ALL THINGS

The Bible begins and ends with God, and everything in between is about God’s revealing himself to man. God is the source of truth, and only He has the answers. All man-made systems and much of man’s wisdom are flawed. Fallen man does not have the ability to create anything perfect, despite which much of Christianity has made man the center of almost everything. Perhaps that is why people feel free to rewrite scripture when they come to something in the text they don’t like.

I don’t get a lot of hate mail, but crude personal attacks and unacceptable language are a clear confession of man-centered thinking. This is not about the discussion of ideas — such exchanges are welcome — rather, it is about personal attacks on someone’s character. For the person who presses the discussion of content and meaning, such unkindness can be expected; but what is of greater concern is that these attacks are often against God, not against a human being.

Much of the defense of error comes from those who think it is terrible to disagree with someone, particularly if they are a popular Moderate Evangelical. Some fly to the defense of flawed men with respect to a person, but have little concern about the offense to God. They are unable to separate the discussion of ideas, content, and meaning from the individuals who hold those ideas. They are so occupied with form that they tend to miss the heart of the issue.

Redemption, the person of Christ, and the failure of man are all great themes throughout scripture; but they are not the central issue. God and His glory constitute the centerpiece of the scriptures. The reason some men choose another subject for their focus is because of their motive: it allows them to build their own system in disregard to God…at their own peril.

POINTS OF INTEREST

The discussions I referred to at the outset of this article included the Millennium, the Rapture, the Kingdom, the New Covenant, and some practical issues such as benevolence being an obligation of the believer. All of these had one thing in common: the various views all came from the fact that participants used different systems of interpretation. It was these systems that allowed them to stray from the centricity of God and to put man at the center instead.

The problem here is that when man is considered central, people are no longer sensitive concerning the offence to God. That is why error is winked at or ignored, and what is even worse is that it is defended. The current worship systems are filled with theological abuse and error, but who seems to even notice or care? The mainstream of publishing pushes erroneous doctrine, and hardly a murmur is heard. If someone does challenge this disdain of God and His word, he is attacked as being anti-intellectual or a “baggy pants”, a backwoods know-nothing.

Let me dare to illustrate this. When a major Evangelical figure states in a public forum that Christ did not die for Hitler or some other evil figure, there is silence, no matter what is the clear statement of scripture. The humanly devised system has to be right; no matter that it includes rewriting the text and inserting convenient wording.

So, when the ESV study notes (in reference to John 16:7 – It is to your advantage that I go away) read as follows: “This is because while Jesus was on earth he could be in only one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit would carry on Jesus’ ministry over the entire world at all times. In addition, in God’s sovereign plan for the unfolding of history, the Holy Spirit would not come in new covenant power and fullness until Jesus returned to heaven.”, there is silence.

At best, this is misleading; but at the worst it is an attack on the person of Christ. This is what happens when we are silent. It is the result of pressing a humanly devised system on the text and making it say whatever the “scholars” want it to say.

GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY!

I don’t even have to guess at this one. In the next article, I will confirm that the responses to such questions will be just as they were outlined at the beginning of this article…but then, “who am I”?

HOW COULD IT HAPPEN? Friday, Sep 6 2013 

Recently we discussed the tragedy of young, immature men in the ministry who have been drawn into errant theology by intellectuals who pretend to be loyal to the scripture. I have no obligation to protect those who are responsible for this moral crime and no obligation to protect those who allowed themselves to drawn into theological error. I have repeatedly demonstrated how the path to liberalism is a gradual process. Those who have chosen to abandon the one biblical hermeneutic may move along this treacherous route quite slowly, while others hasten to their fall from truth.

With a great deal of grief, I think of a young man who, by the grace of God, sat under the teaching of godly men and was shown the value of biblical text, but who later made the mistake of listening to those who have left the authority and sufficiency of scripture. Those teachers were intellectual and philosophical, and that combination often leads to an arrogance which allows folks to twist the text in such a way as to produce their own desired ends. It is simply a rewriting of the scripture. The end result was that the student, in a very short time, moved from a biblical context to a tragic end with the liberalism of amillennialism.

This heartache sent me on a search for an answer to the question, “How could this happen”?

ALMOST EVERY DAY

It dawned on me that almost every day I have contact with people who ought to know better, but who appear to be incapable of recognizing theological error. Some of these individuals are well educated, with graduate and post-graduate degrees. Some of them majored in theological disciplines, and others have spent a good part of their lives in some kind of ministry. So what went wrong? Why is truth not high on their list of priorities?

My pleasure, as well as my responsibility, is to read. My computer is filled with emails, messages from blogs, and notes from people commenting on all kinds of things. These folks talk about people, schools, missions, and ministries, but never seem to ask the question of what they believe. The latest gossip, idea, or opinion fills the pages; but there is very seldom a question about the theology behind all that. Don’t they know about a theology that is biblical? I can’t imagine that they don’t care. The crisis grows when someone does ask the question about doctrinal error. Such a sincere discussion is seen as an attack on some person, or a lack of love. Instead of searching the scripture to discover the truth about a subject, the person who asks a question is attacked personally. We learned a long time ago that a person who attacks the messenger instead of dealing with the message has a hidden motive.

COMING TO AN ANSWER

Jesus taught us that we are not to be respecters of persons. The Bible is about God. Man is spoken of throughout its pages, but the Bible is a revelation about the Sovereign Creator. That is how we are to deal with doctrine and theology – it is all about God. When someone teaches error, we should hasten to the Bible and the God of the Bible for answers. Instead we quickly go to the defense of some contemporary evangelical figure, even if he is speaking against the clear statement of the text. Others jump on the historical band wagon and defend some theological system or historical writer or teacher. There is not a human living who is not flawed. There is no movement, denomination, creed, or theological system that is not tainted with error, so why do they rush to defend everything but the scripture? Some say the scripture needs no defense, but it is that kind of cute talk that buries professing Christianity in error.

This approach doesn’t mean that we can’t have appreciation for people, organizations, and movements. On the other hand, though, all of these things call for us to ask questions. We cannot please God and actively cover error, nor should we ignore error. What kind of pride would ignore the responsibility given to every believer to compare scripture with statements and printed material?

YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING

Going back to the journey I described at the beginning, something became very clear. Every one of the statements that troubled me had one thing in common: those who ignored or covered error hold a flawed hermeneutic. To the person who is committed to the authority and sufficiency of scripture, a correct system of biblical interpretation is imperative. If there is no single system of hermeneutic, then anyone can make the Bible say what he or she wants it to say; and that is exactly why we have error. Many have chosen a system that allows them to insert whatever they want into the biblical text. I remind you that this is exactly what is being done with the constitution of our country. It is the practice of liberals, a way of thinking, and a mindset. That is the reason why, when someone abandons the one biblical hermeneutic, he can come up with any kind of theology or invention to replace it. That is how a well-intentioned student can leave the truth behind and rapidly take the journey from truth to the liberalism of a-millennialism. Not only do I have no obligation to protect those who are following this path, but I have no reason, either, to be silent about the evil – no matter how intellectual it may be – of destroying the futures of young men.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN? Wednesday, Aug 14 2013 

A recent communication from a long-time friend in my home state has once again brought to the surface a very serious issue. The church where he had been a member for most of his life called a new pastor, who failed to inform the church of his intent to remake the church into the emerging-church model. While only God knows his motive, the result became very public. When those who had sacrificed, given, and served for years to create a healthy local assembly began asking questions, they were stiff armed. As time passed, people who had comprised the heart of that church ministry were told to either fall in line with the new plan or leave. In the end, yet another previously healthy congregation moved into the emerging-church tragedy.

We need to begin by agreeing that it is clearly dishonest for any man to accept the leadership of a church without being upfront about his intentions. Even if it is a theological issue that needs to be corrected, he must be transparent.

The question is often asked, “How do you know when the emerging church is emerging in your church”? It has happened to some of you and very soon is about to happen to others. That is what this article is about.

A CLEAR VIEW OF THE EMERGING CHURCH

In reality, the emerging church is simply the road to the emergent church. In the latter, because that movement is at home with heresy, a theology that is biblical is almost destroyed. The emerging church is a façade. It looks good to those who are not settled in their theology, but it is fraught with doctrinal error. No church has ever entered its clutches without having its theology compromised. That cancer is covered by defenders of the movement by “complicating to confuse”. What is needed instead is an approach that “simplifies to clarify”.

To avoid revealing the theological weaknesses of the emerging church, a liberal tool is used: all conversation about it is steered toward culture and methodology rather than the dangers of doctrinal deviation. Although many of their methods are not inherently evil, some are dangerous. Methods, however, are not at the center of this problem; theology is. The emerging church uses its methods, and the ensuing debate about them, to turn from truth. Every church that has headed down the road of the emerging church has been lulled by the siren song of “methods”. When the doctrinal compromise which has occurred is finally realized, by then it’s too late; it is but one more step to the emergent church where at first doctrine doesn’t matter, and finally it is hated. It all begins with the mantra that “the Bible doesn’t speak to that”. Methods do matter, and the Bible records the death of some who were not careful about this.

THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION

If a church is leaning toward the emerging model, don’t expect to see much of a doctrinal shift from the pulpit; it is more subtle than that. The attitude about the content of sermons, and even their length, may create some valid questions. When the pulpit is removed from the “worship center”, members should begin to ask, “What is central here?” Many churches helpfully place Bibles in the pews for anyone who may not have one, but that is, of course, no longer necessary if the Bible has become merely a fetish in man-centered worship. Don’t waste your time judging any individual churches about each of these things; one single issue will only serve to create a question and not necessarily an answer.

A majority of the churches which are moving left have had a major shift in their style of worship. I have pledged not to get in the middle of the “worship wars”, so I will be brief with this. The concern with this topic is that much of the move in worship styles has left the true meaning of worship behind, a telltale sign of the emerging church. Jesus made this plain to the Samaritan woman: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”. (John 4:24). How can we worship God when truth is left behind and when we sing lies? How can we worship God when man, rather than God, is the center of a side show misnamed “worship”?

Music is one of the best indicators of the emerging church infection. Some say that the Bible does not speak to this subject, but that is more of a confession than an observation. If you walk blindfolded into a “worship” service and can’t tell whether you’re in a church or a nightclub or a rock concert or a bar, something is definitely wrong. Showmanship and low-talented performances where you have no idea what the words even are that are being sung should leave you with questions. Even over-used phrases that border on “vain repetition” should make us begin to ask some questions.

FINE TUNING

Any one of these things by itself might not be a condemnation, but taken as a whole they should set off the warning lights. It is clear that every church which has made this transition gave the warning early on in the form of culture, methods, and worship changes. One could not say that the leaders in every case knew what they were doing, but in the end they had to give up something theologically. So…if you are asking, “Is this emerging in my church?” you’d better spend some time thinking about what is going on and asking some Bible questions. If there is no one in your church who has the ability to understand a theology that is biblical, then ask someone who does.

I wasn’t born yesterday, and I have already heard time and again the defense of the emerging church arguments, so if you have input, please make it theological – not philosophical.

ALL THE KING’S MEN Monday, Jul 29 2013 

Most of us older folks can recite the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, which begins “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”, and ends with “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”. I feel sorry for the pessimists in today’s world as well as the optimists. When either group looks at the condition of our nation and this world, they are very apt to draw flawed conclusions. A biblical Christian, on the other hand, is a realist in that he can observe and discuss the terrible plight we are in but at the same time can clearly see the answers that we need. Some individuals solve problems by simply ignoring them, and there are situations where this might be the best approach. In the case of a “clear and present danger”, however, ignoring the reality can be deadly.

Never in the history of this planet has there been such a worldwide destabilization as there is today. Anyone looking for a stable government, economy, or moral standard, or a peaceful setting, searches the world in vain. For the believer, this is no surprise; the Bible clearly tells us what to expect in the end time. The question is what should we do with this reality?

Never before in the history of this once-great country has there been such a drastic plunge into moral degradation, economic insanity, lawlessness, lack of leadership, and ever-present danger. This is the way of any unregenerate society because it has no moral base, having turned from the Sovereign Creator to the worship of man. The old Wild West was tame compared to the violence in our cities and now in the entire countryside. The question once again is – what should we do with this reality?

Never before in the history of the American church has there existed such disdain for the very Word of God, the Bible. Culture has become the rule of morals and methodology. While all the statements and creeds may still be in print, their contents are very seldom found in the pulpits or in the hearts of those who call themselves Christian. The church has become the favorite whipping boy of those who openly revile God. It has been marginalized to the point that biblical Christianity has next to no major impact on society at all. Society not only rejects the church; it openly mocks it. The question is…what should we do with this reality?

DEADLY SILENCE

From a human point of view, we have a Humpty Dumpty nation and world; there is nothing on the horizon that can mend its broken condition. The judgment of God is apparent in the whole of society, and even creation echoes this. The optimist would disagree because he wants there to be an answer for his own comfort and safety, but his is a false hope. The liberal mind has no answer; it only creates problems and blames them on someone else. Denial and false hope actually keep us from coming up with an answer to this calamity.

Many Christian leaders have not only recommended false hope, but have provided a partial truth, and a half truth is dangerous. It is true that the answer for an individual is the gospel because once someone is saved, his world and future are changed forever. It is true that when a person is saved, the positive influence on his surroundings is an answer. From an eternal point of view, the gospel is the answer; and it has immediate influence on the culture.

For the biblical Christian, we begin with the gospel as described in I Corinthians 15:1-4. I say with respect that the gospel is not the whole counsel of God. A church that preaches only the gospel is only partially obedient. The believer who thinks that sharing the gospel is his sole responsibility will in the end be disobedient to the scripture. The whole Bible is the whole counsel of God. The whole must be believed, taught, and shared with the world around us. If you tell me that I am not to speak to the issues of life openly in society, you have asked me to be disobedient.

Silence is deadly, and the church is paying the price for its silence in our culture. That silence happens because some well-intentioned leader has told you to keep God’s Word to yourself or within the four walls of the building where the local church meets. Morality, abortion, sodomy, and dishonesty are not political issues; they are biblical issues first. If believers refuse to obey God and speak to these issues in public, only the lies of the devil’s children will stand.

NOW FOR THE ANSWER

Silence is not an answer. Ignoring the reality of a tragic society is not the answer. The answer is in the hand of God and in His Word. It is of great comfort to know that the biblical Christian has read the last chapter. God wins, and we are winners because we are in Christ. Our struggles are temporary, and defeat is a fleeting thing. Dr. M. R. DeHaan used to say, “Victory may not always be possible, but faithfulness always is”. Those who have accepted the biblical teaching of the any-moment catching away of the church and the second coming of Christ just prior to the Millennium can rejoice in these answers clearly defined in the text of scripture. These are the final answers, and there can be no doubt about them.

We are still waiting for the sound of the trumpet and the “Blessed Hope”. This is the real world we live in. So, what is the answer to the dilemma of living in this “present evil world”? It begins with our willingness to ignore those who call for silence. We have a duty to speak truth openly in the home, in the church, and in society. It is the gospel that saves, but it is truth that leads one to the gospel. It is the Bible that contains the true gospel, but the Bible is also authoritative in any matter to which it speaks.

The answer is in our obligation to glorify God in all we do. Silence does not glorify Him. It is not our responsibility to change the culture – only God can do that – but it is our responsibility to share with the whole world the truth, all the truth contained in the book. Our world has had a great fall, and it is not our job to put it together again, but we can be obedient. This is no time to hide truth under a bushel.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

The book The Weeping Church was first published in 1985. It has been in constant publication since then, and now Faithful Life Publishers has printed the third edition. It continues to be an effective tool for pastors and churches who are seeking to follow the clear teaching of Scripture as to the polity of the local church.

Faithful Life Publishers.com,The Weeping Church, Clay Nuttall, D.Min ISBN 978-1-937129-80-4

BAD DOCTRINE LEADS TO HERESY Wednesday, Jul 17 2013 

The past few weeks have produced some serious frustration for me. I continue to be grieved over the number of younger men who have become prey to doctrinal error. In the main they appear to be enamored with the arrogance of scholarship and intellectualism. Much of this wind of doctrine has come from the misguided influence of the Reformed theology. The basic problem however is the hermeneutic they have adopted. While they would call it biblical it is nothing more than the old allegorical system that has done so much harm to foundational theology. The façade for this farce is the use of the original languages. While language is first in the hermeneutical process it produces false conclusions when it ignores the whole of biblical interpretation that God has given to us.

Most of us would condemn the use of proof texting. This is what the average doctrinal error and cults are made of. The intellectual however has turned proof texting into an art form. Instead of using a single text or a few texts to prove a point, that does not exist in any of them, the pseudo-scholar uses page after page of proof texts before assigning a meaning that doesn’t exist in any of them. This process ignores the whole teaching on a subject and as a result produces error. It is built on bad habits of interpretation such as making an exception the rule and causing similarities to be equals. The product is philosophical theology rather than a theology that is biblical.

AN EXAMPLE

Several examples will suffice to illustrate the error of inserting human presuppositions into the text. The Body of Christ, the church is made up of those redeemed individuals from Pentecost to the Rapture. This is the bride of Christ it is not the same as the wife of God discussed by the prophets. Even the slightest attempt to weld national Israel with the church is subject to suspicion and will identify an errant hermeneutic. I am fully aware of the proof texts used to destroy the clear separation of the two. This includes the bifurcating the special ministry to the church, by the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost.

The church, the body of Christ, is a whole it is a solid unit. Members are a part of this body but they are not the whole. The body of Christ, the heavenly church, is not complete; it has never met and will not meet until the catching away of the church prior to the tribulation period. Members in a local church may be part of the body of Christ but they are not equal to the whole. For that reason the local church, with its many unsaved members is not equal to the body of Christ.

When the heavenly church, the body of Christ is caught away the bridegroom will “present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:8)). The teaching is elementary, unless one deliberately complicates it. At this point not one member of the body or the whole has any flaw or blemish in any way. Our salvation and everything that the bride inherently is, eternally, depends on the finished work of Christ. Our works or service has nothing to do with our eternal state or status. To reject this is to attack the veracity of the finished work of Christ.

When Christ returns at the Second Coming, prior to the Millennium, His bride, the body of Christ will return with Him. This complete body “shall reign on earth” (Rev. 5:10) “with” Him. This unity of the bride with the bridegroom is without exception. No member of this glorious church will be absent for any reason from this eternal relationship or status.

AN OLD ERROR

One cannot assume that scholars are always right. Actually we can assume that they are often wrong. This is true of and old error proposed by some scholars. I speak here of what is called “The doctrine of eternal rewards”. At the heart of this error is the idea that some members of the body of Christ will not share in the millennial reign with Christ and that some will not share in the heavenly city, the eternal state. This state of limbo or purgatory is blamed on the unprofitable servant texts in Matthew and is simply a long list of proof texts that ignore the clear teaching of scripture on the body of Christ. This odd teaching arises from an errant hermeneutic sprinkled with the dust of proper use of the language. It may not be as deliberate as it looks but is an effort to “complicate to confuse”.

Our task in bible interpretation is to “simply to clarify”. We also need to begin with the things that we most assuredly know. The clear teaching of the church as bride of Christ and as the one body of Christ in union makes such humanly devised presuppositions impossible. The bible was not written for scholars to toy with. It is written to us as the average believer. While we are grateful for honest and faithful grammarians and well qualified scholars but God has given the average believer a way to know when the experts are not telling the truth. That is what the one biblical hermeneutic is all about. If those who have divided the body into pieces, as to state and status, would have just asked questions of the text their answers would have stood the test of the whole. The reader always needs to ask these who, where, when, why questions before attempting to assign personal meaning to the text. If one does not know who the text in question was written too, how could you expect the bible to answer?

The one biblical hermeneutic is the correct system of interpretation. It is mathematical in that if we use the system of interpreting and the rules that apply to language everyone will come to the same answer every time. The variances in conclusions therefore rise from ignoring the system or violating the rules so that all errors actually rise from and errant system or a breaking of the rules of interpretation.

ONE ERROR LEADS TO ANOTHER

An additional problem in this area of theology is a faulty view of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The texts are very clear on this event. It is our human invention that creates the misunderstanding. The Bema has nothing to do with salvation. We are at the Bema as a result of our salvation through the work of Christ. This judgment is about the service of sons. All sons are equal at this point. The only question here is what rewards are given to whom. This is a positive time and the highlight of it all is that Christ not servants are honored in that all crowns are ultimately cast before the Lord (Rev. 4:10). The center of this scene is Christ and the main issue is the awarding of crowns.

Teaching on this subject is often overwhelmed with the negative. It is true that all service done in the flesh with be burned. It is true that some members of the body of Christ will not receive rewards. That would be sad but that is not the purpose of the Bema. The main purpose is positive, it is rewards. I do not mean to set aside disobedience or un-confessed sin but that is not the focus, it is a by-product. This is another reason why the whole hermeneutic must be used in viewing scripture.

In addition to the micro/macro context, the historical setting of the text always helps answer little questions. The Holy Spirit used the Bema seat because the actual historical event confirms the positive view. The Bema was a raised platform where the judge sat. One of these is still standing in the old city of Corinth. When a race or sporting event was over the Bema was used by the judge to honor the winner, often with a crown of olive leaves. That was the sole purpose of the judge. While it is true the non-winners were not mentioned the judge did not lecture, condemn or exile those who failed to win the event.

When the Judgment Seat of Christ is concluded every member of the bride will stand included and equal “In Christ”. That is because their state and status eternally was settled by the sacrifice of Christ not the works of the believers. This is all so simple and points out why bad doctrine leads ultimately to heresy.

BIRTH IS THE BEGINNING OF DEATH Thursday, May 23 2013 

I have often said that in the creation of any local church or institution are the seeds of its own destruction. A careful look at the history of any one of these will confirm this. The wise mind will be able to see those seeds long before they come to fruition. Human organizations and documents are always flawed since only God could create, or write, a perfect one. The Bible is a perfect document for those who have a high view of scripture. The Body of Christ, the Heavenly Church, is viewed as “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”. (Eph. 5:27) No one could honestly say that about any local church or institution. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually and also began to die physically, just as God said he would. Some institutions die a slow death; others race full speed to their destruction.

The problem is that people are blinded by loyalty and thus are unable to be objective about their own church or institution. They will foolishly say that their organization is the same as it has always been, with no movement away from its foundation. Some loyalists know better, but are quick to use “turn-speak” in an attempt to hide a move to the left. Others are just plain ignorant or apathetic, and some are too fearful to ask the right questions.

A WINDOW TO DEATH

We are now into graduation season. I am astounded when I read the list of schools that some of our graduates are headed for this fall. Do parents have no idea of what an institution believes? Are they without knowledge, or don’t they care? It could be because of any one of these reasons, but why would mothers and fathers send their young minds to a place where their intellectual, spiritual, and moral being would be under attack every day? There is no doubt that many adults have no idea of what is being taught. On the other hand, it also appears that the average parent would not even know what questions to ask in order to find out the truth behind all the promotional glitz of a certain school.

In our circles, the new theologies are “headed for the cliff” at breakneck speed. So-called “Christian” schools have embraced a number of these erroneous doctrines. Many of the “winds of doctrine” are cleverly based on intellectualism; after all, the scholars must be right. This, however, is only one of the problems. To assume that a popular, well known communicator who is widely published couldn’t possibly be wrong is a disaster. The truth is that many in this category have buried followers in an allegorical theology that leaves Bible truth far behind. Young men caught in the power of pride have no way to question the viability of the false teaching that currently covers the theological landscape.

HOW ABOUT THE LEADERS?

It is heartbreaking to realize that parents do not know how to protect their children from this creeping culture of doctrinal doom. Where are the pastors on this issue? In Acts 20, it is made clear that the pastor/shepherd/elder/bishop/overseer has a responsibility to protect the sheep while “grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock”. (Acts 20:29) Do they not know the dangers that lie in wait for these young hearts and minds? Are they afraid to speak up about the spiritual, moral, and intellectual traps? Over fifty-three years of ministry, my interaction with various institutions has been quite involved. Watching schools drift, or race, away from a solid foundation is painful; but seeing that many dear friends still support and send students to those schools is absolutely heart-wrenching. These are not people we hate. They are dear friends, but why are they so blind? The answer often given is foolish philosophy. Is it just a difference of opinion or another point of view? That would certainly cover a whole lot of disobedience and ignorance.

What can be done when leaders do not know the scripture or are willing to sit idly by while others corrupt those we love? The problem here isn’t just a lack of knowledge of scripture and theology; it is a lack of interest. What I do know is that every error that is being carefully injected into churches and institutions comes from the same root problem – the fact that many, if not most, of our friends have never been taught the one biblical hermeneutic and so have missed the heart of a theology that is biblical.

IS THERE ANY WAY TO SEE IT COMING?

No leader ever suddenly steps into the pulpit or college chapel and announces that he no longer believes in the virgin birth. Such a move to error is a slow process, and the path is usually camouflaged. The move to wrong views about sign gifts, the timing of the Rapture, the New Covenant, and the merging of Israel and the Church is a subtle one. Those who have a motive tend to simply pick at things. They make small adjustments in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the church, salvation, etc.; and only the careful observer will realize what is happening. Only courageous believers will be willing to point out those errors publicly, and they should be prepared for the vicious attacks they will receive for doing such a thing.

Those who are leaning left always complain about the “whistle blowers” on the right; however, they never miss an opportunity to brand them as “anti-intellectual, baggy pants know-nothings from the back waters”. Despite their protests, there is something that gives them away: they hide behind culture and methods, claiming they have changed their methods, but not their message. Sorry, that just won’t fly. Parents and pastors need to be aware that hard turns to the left on cultural issues are always accompanied by questions about a shift, slow or rapid, in their theology.

THIS IS NOT A PERSONAL ISSUE

Those who have a high view of scripture and who are sensitive to small steps to the left are left to wonder why others choose to wander. We have long-time friends in ministry who appear to be numb about these shifts. It puzzles us why they remain in support of institutions which are communicating theological instability. Why do they send their children there? Why do they remain on boards? The only answer is ignorance or apathy. That is not an attack on their person; it is an expression of grief for them.

Let me sound a warning: If you have read this and are beginning to wonder if your church or institution is in view, don’t write me. If you have to question whether or not any of this applies to your loyalties, you already have your answer. You should be asking these questions of those who are taking your money and your youngsters. If you don’t know what to ask, seek help from those who do. Begin with the culture smoke screen. People who hide error are good at smoke and mirrors, and please don’t ask why I do not state any names. Others will do that for you; my task is to deal with ideas.

A NATION OF FOOLS Thursday, Apr 18 2013 

In April of last year, I greeted you with the words, “Unhappy Atheist’s Day”. Atheists do have their day to be recognized, and that would be…April Fool’s Day. We are warned in scripture not to call someone a fool in a light manner. In this case, however, we are only repeating what the sovereign creator has recorded in Psalm 14:1 – The fool hath said in his heart, (there is) no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

In our most recent national election, voters gave clear evidence that they have chosen to be identified as fools. This (possibly) majority vote gave new meaning to the term, “a nation of fools”. I doubt if a majority of those voters would actually call themselves atheists, but there are those who are willing to do so. They are the stated fools, who admit – by God’s definition – that they belong to a nation of fools. The remaining part of that voting bloc admits to being fools only by the way they speak talk and live. They are demonstrated fools, who live as if there is no God who is the final authority on all things.

This discussion is not about our nation having originally been a Christian nation; I will let others debate that. On the other hand, though, how could anyone possibly think that we are a Christian nation at this point in time? Some would argue that we are a secular nation, but that is not true, either. Everything that is being advanced by this nation of fools today is really based on what they believe. Their belief system is actually their religion, and it is not difficult to identify. While the goal of Islam is to be a majority and to extend its cruel rule over all the earth, Muslims are not yet the majority in our nation. The religion of fools that now has a majority has one common god, and that is man himself. Man has, for them, become autonomous; he doesn’t need, nor does he want, the God of the universe.

FOOLS LEADING FOOLS

A majority of fools has placed foolish leaders in charge, but this elite group is demonstrating every day that, through their new oligarchy, they will press their folly on the entire nation. This is true in every phase of government. The majority of our Supreme Court members have chosen to mock the one true God with most of their decisions, the most recent trend of approving sodomy being only one of the most egregious. For years, they have been closing the public sector to God, at least from their point of view. Instead of having a court jester, as in olden days, they have become an entire court of fools, according to God’s definition.

The present administration has morphed from its former false claim of support for Christianity, to ignoring it, and now even to open hostility. While it openly and without apology has given honor to Islam, it now pushes the agenda of that movement, which is based on violence and hate. At the same time, it is criticizing and condemning biblical Christianity, the very heart of a peaceful society.

Our Congress, for the most part, has joined the massive movement that has led us to become a nation of fools. Like other leaders in government who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, they have run roughshod over the founding elements of this nation that were put in place in order to protect good citizens. The very people who were chosen to protect all citizens – including people of faith – have marginalized and maligned those very people. This folly on the part of our leaders is the reason why this nation is now so deeply divided.

Some moderate evangelicals at this point are going to brand these thoughts as anti-government rhetoric. I warn you not to go there. It is nearing the time when your support of fools, by God’s definition, is going to return to bite you as well. Your affinity to this failure is why the govern-ment has become the god of our beloved land. Who needs the true God, anyway, when we have a government that can solve any problem and will take care of us from the cradle to the grave? The problem with this setup is that the only way government can play god is to make slaves out of the rest of us; and a fool is really a slave, even if he thinks he is in charge.

THE SOURCE OF THE FOOL’S FOLLY

Any Bible student should be able to recognize this failure of leaders in the history of the nation of Israel. The people became evil because the leaders became evil. In every case, the Old Testament declares that the nation was judged by God; and in time, some were sent into exile for their rejection of God’s leadership and law.

With this in mind, it is worth asking when God will bring His judgment on our country. Perhaps it has already begun, and we are unwilling to recognize it. How could any serious student of the scriptures think that the murder of millions of infants, and the accommodation of sodomy, will be ignored by God? At all levels of society, morality has reached the level of a junkyard dog’s.

We might begin by asking what made it possible for such a nation, founded on biblical law and principles, to sink so low. One of the answers is education. Like it or not, fools are in charge of today’s educational system. Intellectual fools, perhaps, but nevertheless having dictated, “no god but man”. The terrible truth is that believers have supported these fools and paid them to destroy the morality of our youth, who now have become the fools in charge.

NOT EVERYONE IS A FOOL

At every level of society, there is a light. Thank God there are still true believers as identified in the book of 1 John. These saints have “kept the faith”; they have “fought a good fight”, and they will be “faithful unto death”. This week I was asked, “How long do you think it will be before true believers may have to go underground?” At the present rate of the advancement of the evil led by the elite fools, I doubt if we will have ten years. Because I am in the evening of my life, I may not see that day; but I think of our children and grandchildren and what we must teach them.

Peter has the answer to this question, and it begins with perspective. We shouldn’t be surprised. Beloved, think it not strange considering the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12) We should find joy in the fact that we will suffer for Christ. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:13)

Consider reading The Coming Conflict; The Separation of Church and State, by Clay Nuttall; available at http://www.FaithfulLifePublishers.com

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