Speak Where the Bible Speaks

There is an old saying among the churches of Christ. The saying is “Speaking where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

It seems that this world is always trying to chip away at the Word of God. Over the past several decades, things that once would not have been allowed in society in general, not to mention inside any group of people calling themselves Christians, are now widely tolerated, accepted, and even encouraged in the religious world. I see articles on a pretty regular basis that talk about how religion must change. How it must become more accepting to different “lifestyles.” I even saw a book titled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die” by John Spong who is the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey.

One review on Amazon of the book said this:

Spong refers to himself as a believer in exile. He believes the world into which Christianity was born was limited and provincial, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the progress in knowledge and technology made over the past two millennia. This makes any ideas or beliefs formulated in 1st-century Judea totally inadequate to our progressive minds and lives today. So Spong is in exile until Christianity is re-formed to discard all of the outdated and, according to Spong, false tenets of Christianity.

Anytime you see that word “progressive” applied toward the Bible, you should be careful. The Bible was delivered once and it does not change because God does not change.

Churches today are doing everything they can to change. They are allowing things such as women in leadership roles, homosexuals, full rock bands, and unqualified elders and deacons in the name of bringing people closer to God. It never ceases to amaze me that people will try to get closer to God by doing the exact opposite of what He says to do.

As humans, sometimes we compromise our ideals, but at Christians there is more at stake. When we compromise Christianity, we are compromising more than our ideals…we are compromising God’s. And when we compromise God’s ideals, we are also compromising our own salvation.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 ESV)

Paul is speaking to the Corinthians here, and he is saying that we should not tamper with the Word of God, but rather we should tell the truth. He goes on to say that the god of this world, that is Satan, has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the beauty of that truth.

When we try to twist or tamper with the Word of God, we cast darkness over those who hear us. By telling the truth, we cast light and hope on them.

In short, Paul is saying “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

Dirty Mouth?

There are a series of commercials that have been out for sometime now that advertise Orbit chewing gum.  The lady in the commercial always ends by saying “Got a dirty mouth?  Clean it up with Orbit.”  Yes, it cute(ish) and I always loathe a good pun.  However, it does point out a problem in today’s world.

Never before have I seen so many people who profess to be Christians yet use horrible language in their everyday dealings with people.  Sadly, this problem doesn’t limit itself to people’s mouths, but has infected their fingers also.  Yes, I’m talking about social media in general and Facebook in particular.

I have lost count of the number of people that I have had to block from showing up on my Facebook feed because they will post something from the word of God and then immediately post something that has horrible language in it.  Why is this?  Is this what God wants?

I guess the real question is “Does our language really matter?”  I’ve heard people say things like “God isn’t going to condemn me because of a few words.”  This is one way that Satan tricks us into believing that our words don’t matter to God.  But, the truth is our words do matter to God.

Ananias and Sapphira just thought to use a “few words.”  It didn’t turn out so well for them.

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.  After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.  (Acts 5:1-11 ESV)

“But, they lied,” some people would say.  And that is true.  So, I will give evidence that God wants our speech to be pure just as much as he wants all of our actions to be pure.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  (Colossians 3:5-10 ESV)

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  (Ephesians 4:25-31 ESV)

Look at the context these things are under!  In both cases, he talks about lying and how bad it is.  He talks about not having malice in both cases.  Then he mentions obscene talk.  Is there any doubt from these two passages that bad language is just as offensive to God as lying, or slandering, or wrath, or anger.  In the second passage it even says that doing these things grieves the Holy Spirit of God.

If we profess to be Christians and regularly use bad language, are we really Christians?  Are we following the example of Christ?  I can’t think of a single time that Christ used offensive language.  When He was having His back beaten bloody by the Romans before His crucifixion, the Bible doesn’t record a single curse word said out of anger or pain.  With all He went through, not a single offensive statement is recorded.  Why not?  Well, some people will say, “It’s because He was God, ” and that is true.  However, He was tempted just as we are.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)

So, it wasn’t because He wasn’t tempted to do so.  I think it was because He understood something.

Abstain from every form of evil.  (1 Thessalonians 5:22 ESV)

Christ understood that His actions and words reflected on His Father.  Many people who claim to be Christians today don’t seem to understand that our actions and words also reflect on our Father.  How does it look to the world when we say we are Christians and then live as if we follow Satan?

Some people will say, “I don’t write anything bad, I just repost things other people have said.”  Is that abstaining from every form of evil or is that giving your agreement to what they said?  How do you think God sees that, especially when you add a comment like “I totally agree with this.”  Well, I’ll tell you how God feels about it:

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.  (2 John 1:9-11 ESV)

By reposting a message that contains offensive language, we are agreeing with and taking part in that person’s wicked works.  God will not be pleased with that.  Instead, let’s always strive to show all those around us that we belong to God by keeping our speech pure.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14 ESV)

The Reality of Hate

Satan is sneaky!  But, worse than being sneaky, he is extremely good at what he does.  From the beginning, he has been using the Word of God and twisting it to his agenda.  The very first temptation recorded in the Bible is one where Satan took the Words of God and changed them just a little.  That temptation worked, Eve sinned, and talked Adam into sinning as well.

During the temptation of Christ, Satan tried the same trick again.  Why shouldn’t he?  It works so well!

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:5-6 ESV)

Here, Satan quotes Scripture as accurately as any apostle of Christ.  In this instance, he quoted the scripture accurately in an attempt to cloud the meaning of the scripture.  That’s a trick that works even better than twisting the Scripture to say something different.  It’s a better trick because those who don’t know the Scripture or don’t desire to put in the study can be made to think that the Scripture (when quoted accurately) means something entirely different from what it actually means.  Satan spoke true.  God would protect Christ until it was time for Him to fulfill all things.  But, that protection didn’t include purposefully throwing Himself off of the pinnacle of the temple to put that promise to a test.  Notice, Christ understood this and replied:

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  (Matthew 4:7 ESV)

Jesus understood that until you have all that the Bible says on a topic, you don’t have the entire truth.  Jesus understood Psalms 119:160:

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.  (Psalm 119:160 ESV)

The total of God’s word is truth.  You need to put it all together to get the complete meaning.  Today’s world has a terrible problem understanding this.  Everywhere we look there are people who try to pass off lies as truth and truth as lies.  However, that isn’t just a problem in today’s world…it has always been a problem.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!  (Isaiah 5:20-21 ESV)

Even though this problem has always been around, the older I get the more it feels that it is a problem that is getting worse.  You can barely pick up the newspaper, turn on the television, or listen to the radio without having to sift through a mountain of lies.  The lie that I have had to sift through more than any other recently is the lie that if we, as Christians, say anything against a sin, then we are being, at best, intolerant and at worst, filth spewing hatemongers.  Well, I want to apply truth to that lie and tell you what hate really looks like.

Let’s look at it logically.  Here are some questions to think over:

  1. If I teach to you and convert you, then you will spend all of eternity in Heaven with God.  I also want to spend all of eternity in Heaven with God.  If I hated you, why would I want you to be there?
  2. If I hated you, wouldn’t it be easier to tell you nothing at all and let you go to Hell instead?

If there is one thing that I wish I could wave my hands and make everyone in the world understand it is this: when I try to teach you what the Bible says, I don’t do it out of hate.  I do it out of love.  I do it because I want you to be in Heaven with me for all of eternity.  If I tell you what God says in the Bible, it is not me judging you, it is me begging you to do what God wants you to do so that you can have what I have.  What more loving thing could a person say than “I want you to be with me forever?”

On the contrary, if I had hate in my heart, I would do everything I could to make sure you didn’t know the truth.  I wouldn’t want you with me forever.  I would never try to teach you or, if I did, I would teach you wrong to make sure you were unable to find the truth.

Now, you may say, “But, your interpretation of the Bible is archaic and can’t be the truth.”  I would love to study with you on that, but until I can study with you on that, please know this: I firmly believe that what I am saying is the truth.  I am convinced, convicted, and certain that the things I write and say are the truth and that they are what God wants you to do to be with Him forever.  I’m not making it up.  I have a strong reason for each of my beliefs.

When I try to teach them to you, please take it as a compliment, not a slight.  Under each word I write and under each word I say, please hear the underlying message: I love you enough to want you to spend eternity with you in Heaven.

The world sees what I have just said as hate.  Does it seem like hate to you?  If so, I’m very sorry for you.  I still want to teach you.  That’s love.

Hate pretends to be love.  It makes statements like “don’t judge me.”  It preaches about “tolerance” while teaching the “tolerant” to be tolerant of every despicable lie, but is intolerant of those who try to teach truth.  It hides behind the mantle of enlightenment while bringing darkness to everyone it touches.

That is the reality of hate.

The next time someone tries to teach you about God, even if you don’t agree with them, why not consider that they are doing it out of love for you?  You might just learn something.

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?  (Galatians 4:16 ESV)